A Sydney teenager has been confirmed as the final person missing in the White Island volcano tragedy, as weather forces police to abandon search for two bodies.
A Sydney teenager has been confirmed as the final person missing in the White Island volcano tragedy, as weather forces police to abandon search for two bodies.

Jesse fights for life after entire family lost in volcano

A Sydney teenager has been confirmed as the final person missing in the White Island volcano tragedy, as wild weather forced New Zealand police to abandon their search for two lost bodies.

Winona Langford, 17, was touring White Island with her parents - Kristine, 45, and Anthony, 51, and older brother Jesse, 19, when the deadly eruption occurred.

Yesterday, relatives of the family said Jesse was ­receiving excellent care in hospital, hours after his mother was confirmed dead in the eruption.

Confirmed missing... Winona Langford.
Confirmed missing... Winona Langford.

The principal of Willoughby Girls High School where Winona, 17, was due to complete her HSC next year have said the community's been left "deeply saddened" by the White Island volcano tragedy.

"At this distressing time, the school community's thoughts and heartfelt sympathy are with her family and friends," Principal Liz Diprose said.

"The Department of Education and Willoughby Girls High School are working closely with students and staff to support them at this most difficult time.

"There is and will be ongoing extensive support in place for those impacted by this tragic event."

Anthony, Jesse, Kristine and Winona Langford during Jesse’s graduation from Marist College North Shore last year. Source: Instagram
Anthony, Jesse, Kristine and Winona Langford during Jesse’s graduation from Marist College North Shore last year. Source: Instagram

The 19-year-old is now facing a painful ­future as he fights to recover from burns to 90 per cent of his body and life without his parents and possibly sister.

"Anthony and Kristine, loving parents to Jesse and Winona, were a wonderful couple and devoted to both their immediate and extended families," relatives said in a statement yesterday. "They will be ­greatly missed by all who knew them."

They described Jesse's hospital care as "excellent".

 

Anthony and Kristine Langford, with their children Jesse and Winona. Source – Instagram
Anthony and Kristine Langford, with their children Jesse and Winona. Source – Instagram

New Zealand tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman was also confirmed as the other person missing this morning.

The news comes as authorities' recovery operation is this morning hampered by poor weather.

A helicopter search planned for this morning was called off due to dangerous weather conditions.

Isolated showers lashed the Bay of Plenty this morning, while a major front was expected to bring heavy rain to White Island in the afternoon.

Police still attempted to conduct a shoreline search of the active volcano, where they believe the missing bodies may lie.

Krystal Browitt victim of the White Island Eruption
Krystal Browitt victim of the White Island Eruption

Other Australians confirmed dead are Jessica Richards, 20, and her mother Julie, 47, Jason Griffiths, 33, Martin Hollander, 48, and his wife Barbara, 49, and sons Matthew, 13, and Berend, 16, Rick Elzer, 32, Krystal Browitt, 21, Zoe Hosking, 15, and her stepfather Gavin Dallow, 53.

One week on, the death toll stands at 16 and another 14 people remain in hospitals across New Zealand, while another 13 people had been transferred to Australia.

 

Missing Queensland mother and daughter Julie (right) and Jessica Richards, after the White Island volcano disaster New Zealand – Photo Supplied
Missing Queensland mother and daughter Julie (right) and Jessica Richards, after the White Island volcano disaster New Zealand – Photo Supplied

The family of Karla Mathews, 32, who was killed along with her partner Mr Elzer, and their friend Mr Griffiths, said they are shattered.

"Our family is absolutely heartbroken and our big sister will be incredibly missed," her brother Kirk Mathews Boden and sister Nicola Mathews said yesterday.

 

Karla Mathews and Rick Elzer from Coffs Harbour died in the White Island volcano eruption. Picture: Supplied
Karla Mathews and Rick Elzer from Coffs Harbour died in the White Island volcano eruption. Picture: Supplied

Mr Elzer's family said it had brought them "great relief to know that Rick was with the love of his life Karla Mathews at the time of the eruption and that they were together when they passed".

"Together with Karla's family, we will now be able to bring them home," the family said in a statement yesterday.

 

Supplied photo of (L-R) Jason Griffiths, Karla Mathews and Richard Elzer, three Australian victims of the White Island volcano.
Supplied photo of (L-R) Jason Griffiths, Karla Mathews and Richard Elzer, three Australian victims of the White Island volcano.

The Australian Republic Movement paid tribute to the Hollander family and said: "Martin Hollander was a fantastic contributor to the ARM, including as secretary of the NSW Branch from 2017."

"Martin's insight, warmth and depth of character was a tremendous asset to the campaign and a gift to all those who knew him. Vale Martin, Barbara, Berend and Matthew. You will be missed."

 

Year 8 student Matthew Hollander, brother Berend and parents Martin and Barbara. (AAP Image/Supplied by Family) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Year 8 student Matthew Hollander, brother Berend and parents Martin and Barbara. (AAP Image/Supplied by Family) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Meanwhile, the son of two Australians injured in the eruption says the timeline for his parents' recovery is uncertain and they could face months in hospital.

Sydney couple Nick and Marion London remain at Concord Hospital where they have burns to their bodies and internal chemical burns from breathing in toxic gases.

Family friend Colin Cool, who met Mr London while working at a radio station in 1978, described the pair as "brothers".

"I last saw Nick and Marion when we dined together in the city just over a month ago. They were looking forward to their next cruise on the Ovation of the Seas," Mr Cool said. "As regular cruisers, they were no stranger to this vessel. Sadly, this journey was to end tragically for them."

It comes after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said tour operators and property owners involved in the fatal visit to White Island could face five years' jail and up to $3 million in fines. Ms Ardern said the WorkSafe investigation would likely take a year and will look into breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act.



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