New Zealand volcano death toll rises to 19

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Dec 23 2019 07:41 AM

Rescue crew are seen at the White Island volcano, also known by its Maori name Whakaari, in New Zealand, December 13, 2019, in this image obtained via social media. New Zealand Defense Force/Handout via Reuters

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - The death toll from New Zealand's devastating White Island eruption has risen to 19, with police confirming Monday another death in hospital.

The toll includes 2 people whose bodies have not been recovered.

A police spokesman said they were informed that a person had died late Sunday in an Auckland hospital.

There were 47 people, mainly Australian tourists, on the island when it erupted on December 9, and 25 remain in hospital. Many are still in a critical condition.

The sea search for the 2 missing people continues, although it has been scaled down.

"We haven't given up," deputy police commissioner Mike Clement said after telling the families why they believed the bodies were not on the island.

"But we are literally in the hands of the sea... the reality is we cannot be precise.

"I think the family understands as time passes it means less chance but not, no chance."