Medical evacuations begin for Australian victims of Whakaari/White Island eruptions

The official death toll from the Whakaari/White Island eruption has climbed to eight. With eight more bodies still on the island it's already clear it will reach 16.

At least nine of the victims of the eruption are Australians. On Thursday, evacuations began for the Australian survivors and by Friday only one Australian victim will be left in a New Zealand hospital.

They have a long road to recovery ahead of them - but they'll be home.

However, not everyone was lucky enough to survive their injuries.

Sydney schoolboys 13 -year-old Matthew Hollander and his 16-year- old brother Ben died in hospital.

Matthew is the youngest victim of the eruption.

Their parents Martin and Barbara are missing and their remaining family are mired in grief.

"We are absolutely heartbroken by this loss," they said in a statement.

 "Ben and Matthew were wonderfully kind and spirited boys who lived short but very fulsome lives."

Gavin Dallow and his stepdaughter Zoe Hosking were confirmed dead on Wednesday. Jason Griffiths died in hospital overnight. 

There are 10 further Australians who are missing and presumed dead.

Griffith's friends Richard Elzer and Karla Mathews are still on the island.

Twenty-one-year old Krystal Browitt is also missing. Back home in Melbourne, her neighbours are holding on to hope.

"My legs and hands are shaking, I'm just still thinking, hoping and praying the younger one comes back home safely. She's still missing. I have no words how beautiful they were," said Browitt's neighbour Suprita Konda. 

Ovation of the Seas, the cruise ship many of the victims were travelling on, passed White Island on Wednesday on its way to Wellington.

Passengers on the cruise say it's hard to move on with so many missing faces. 

"You try and put it at the back of your mind, 'cause you're on holidays," said Janet Freudling.

"But it's sad what happened."


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