Australia’s foreign minister, Marise Payne, is set to arrive in New Zealand to meet with its prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, in the wake of the country’s deadly White Island volcano eruption.
The visit comes after an Australian victim caught in the blast died in Sydney’s Concord hospital on Sunday, almost a week after the eruption hit tour groups on the island.
Payne will be in New Zealand from Monday until Wednesday and will meet Ardern, along with the deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister, Winston Peters.
At the meeting she would “express our deep appreciation for the professional and quick response of the New Zealand emergency and medical services and the care they have provided to Australian survivors of the eruption”, Payne said on Sunday evening.
“Our hearts go out to all of the families and loved ones of those affected.”
Some 47 people, including 24 Australian citizens and four permanent residents, were on the island when the volcano erupted on Monday.
The group of Australians were on a tour to the island from the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas, which docked in Sydney Harbour early on Monday morning after completing its journey.
One of the passengers said those travelling on the vessel had not been told of the tragedy until late on Monday night.
“Everyone was watching the news and jumping on their phones and finding out what they could,” the passenger known only as Troy told Nine’s Today Show.
“It was sombre. The crew were really good. They were trying to stay upbeat and happy and do what they could but you could tell they were hurting.
“I think the captain was breaking down, crying a fair bit”.
Troy said once some of the pictures of the missing passengers were released, people on board began to recognise them.
He said it was good to be back in Sydney. “Just relieved to be back, really. Can’t wait to get home.”
Two deaths at the weekend took the official toll from the deadly blast to 16, 10 of them Australian.
A further two people are missing, with their bodies believed to be in the waters around White Island, which is also known as Whakaari.
Twelve people are still being treated in Australian hospitals after being repatriated with severe burns.
After completing the disaster victim identification work, New Zealand police on Sunday released the names of seven more people, including four Australians and two Americans with Australian permanent residency, who died in the tragedy.
They are the Adelaide schoolgirl Zoe Hosking, 15, her stepfather, Gavin Dallow, 53, Karla Mathews, 32, and a Sydney man, Anthony Langford, 51.
Sydney high school students and brothers Matthew and Berend Hollander, 13 and 16, were also named.
NSW Health on Sunday confirmed the death of an Australian man in Sydney.
“Officers from Burwood police area command attended Concord hospital following the death of a man after being medically transferred from New Zealand,” the department said. “NSW Health wishes to pass on our condolences to the family.”
A recovery team returned to White Island on Sunday morning but was unable to retrieve the remains of two people still missing.
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