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WATCH: Cruise passengers among missing on New Zealand volcano blast island

PortandTerminal.com, December 10, 2019

Passengers travelling aboard Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas are among the missing in the White Island volcano blast off the coast of New Zealand.

AUKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – Six deaths were confirmed after Monday’s eruption of the White Island volcano in New Zealand. Five people died at the time of the blast or soon after, while a sixth person died Tuesday night at an Auckland hospital.

White Island sits about 30 miles offshore from mainland New Zealand and experts say it’s the country’s most active cone volcano, with about 70 percent of the volcano lying under the sea

Passengers who were aboard Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas are among the missing in the volcano blast. Of the 47 people believed to be on or near the island at the time of the blast, 38 were from the cruise ship according to some (unconfirmed) reports.

About 30 of the survivors remained hospitalized on Tuesday, many flown to burn units around the country. The first confirmed death was of a local man, Hayden Marshall-Inman, a guide who had shown tourists around the island.

Police said they expect to find no survivors on the island, and will send a Defence Force ship on Tuesday in a recovery operation.

A Virginia couple who were on their honeymoon in New Zealand is among those severely injured after the volcano violently erupted Monday. The newlyweds, Lauren and Matt Urey of Richmond, were touring the White Island volcano on the Royal Caribbean cruise Ovation of the Seas.

Virginia newlyweds, Lauren and Matt Urey of Richmond, were touring the White Island volcano on the Royal Caribbean cruise Ovation of the Seas. Both survived but were badly burned in the incident

Matthew Urey sustained burns to around 80 percent of his body, while Lauren Urey suffered burns to about 25 percent of her body and is facing surgery, family members said in an interview.

Flowers are laid at a makeshift memorial in front of cruise ship Ovation of the Seas, in Tauranga, New Zealand, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. 

Royal Caribbean issued a statement saying the ship would stay in the nearby port overnight ‘until we learn more about the situation’.

The vessel, which embarked on a 12-day cruise from Sydney, was supposed to sail to Wellington on Monday evening before touring New Zealand’s South Island and returning to Circular Quay.  

Michael Schade, a traveller from San Francisco, said his tour group was standing at the edge of the main crater less than 30 minutes before the blast. 

Geoff Hopkins was in a boat offshore after visiting the island with his daughter, the tour a 50th birthday present for him. He told the New Zealand Herald the eruption at first looked beautiful but quickly turned menacing.

As injured people were transported onto their boat screaming in pain, Hopkins and his daughter Lillani poured freshwater onto them, cut them out of their clothes and tried to keep them calm.

He told the Herald they were “horrifically” burned on their exposed skin and faces, even under their clothes.

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