Authorities in New Zealand have called off the search for two bodies they believe were washed out to sea after the White Island eruption.

There were 47 people visiting the tourist destination when the volcano erupted on December 9, killing 13 people initially and leaving more than two dozen others hospitalised with severe burns.

The death toll rose to 19 over the weekend, including two people who have not been found.

Police said their decision followed "extensive shoreline and substantial aerial searches from east of White Island to north of Cape Runaway".

"Sadly no further items of significance have been located," a statement added.

Police have identified the pair believed to be washed out to sea as New Zealand tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman, 40, and Australian teenager Winona Langford, 17.

Meanwhile, the families of two American newlyweds who were badly injured during the eruption said the pair are progressing as well as could be hoped for given the extent of their injuries.

The couple, Lauren Urey, 32, and Matt Urey, 36, from Richmond, Virginia, remain in hospital in New Zealand.

"There are no words to express how horrible this has been for everyone involved, but we are very lucky and grateful that although Lauren and Matt are severely injured, they're still with us," the families said.

They said that while the two were progressing as well as could be hoped for, "they both have a tremendously difficult and long road to recovery ahead of them".

White Island, also known by its Maori name, Whakaari, is the tip of an undersea volcano about 30 miles off New Zealand's North Island and was a popular tourist destination before the eruption.

New Zealand authorities are investigating the circumstances around the disaster.

Published: by Radio NewsHub
Start your relationship

If you are interested in receiving bulletins from Radio News Hub or would simply like to find out more please fill in the form below. We operate on annual contracts - spread the cost is available.

We aim to get back to you within 48 hours