N.Z. Volcano Eruption Survivors Suffer Extensive Burns: ‘It's Possible’ Not All ‘Will Survive’

Rachel DeSantis
N.Z. Volcano Eruption Survivors Suffer Extensive Burns: ‘It's Possible’ Not All ‘Will Survive’

Six people have now been confirmed dead while eight remain missing after a volcano erupted upon a group of tourists in New Zealand on Monday, leaving many with “horrific” burns.

Five people died in the initial blast on White Island, while an additional person died Tuesday night at a hospital in Auckland, the Associated Press reported.

Police said in a statement that the victims’ bodies were being transported to Auckland for post-mortems, but that the “severe” nature of their injuries made the identification process difficult.

Meanwhile, 31 people between the ages of 13 and 72 years old remain hospitalized, with 27 of those people having suffered burns to at least 30 percent of their bodies, CNN reported.

Ministry of Health spokesman Pete Watson said that every burn unit in the country is at full capacity, and that medical staff are doing all they can to treat the injuries suffered from the volcanic ash and gas, according to the outlet.

“It’s possible that not all patients will survive,” Watson said.

The eight remaining missing will stay on the island a while longer, as experts have estimated that there is a 50 percent chance of another small eruption within a day, and rescue teams “didn’t want to take any chances,” the AP reported.

John Boren/Getty

Forty-seven people were on the island when the volcano erupted just after 2 p.m., and of those, 38 were traveling with the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas, the New Zealand Herald reported.

Geoff Hopkins was visiting the island and on a boat when the eruption began, prompting him to help deliver first aid to victims he told the Herald were “horrifically burnt.”

Hopkins said his boat pulled multiple survivors on board, and that he and others poured cold water onto their peeling skin.

RELATED: Missing Newlyweds Found Suffering Severe Burns Following Desperate Search After Volcano Eruption

The first victim has been identified as Hayden Marshall-Inman, a tour operator for White Island Tours, the Herald reported.

“Devastation is an understatement,” Paul Quinn, the company’s chairman, wrote in a statement on Facebook. “This is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been impacted.”

White Island volcano | MICHAEL SCHADE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Marshall-Inman’s brother Mark confirmed his death on Facebook, and wrote that Hayden died “doing the one thing he loved,” according to the AP.

Of the 47 people on the island at the time of the blast, nine were from the United States, police said. Twenty-four people were from Australia, two from China, four from Germany, one from Malaysia, five from New Zealand and two from the United Kingdom.

Virginia-based newlyweds Matt and Lauren Urey were among those injured, with Matt’s mother Janet telling news outlets she received a harrowing voicemail from her son informing her of his injuries.

Lauren and Matt Urey | Facebook

“Terrified. Any horrible emotion you can imagine. I didn’t even listen to the full message,” she told the TODAY show. “I hung up and quickly called back, and at least got to hear his voice that he was at the hospital, but his hands were severely burned. He really couldn’t use the phone.”

Lauren’s mother Barbara Barham said the couple was traveling with the cruise ship, and that she was later told that Lauren was recovering from burns covering 20 percent of her body at a hospital in Auckland, the Washington Post reported.

RELATED: 5 Killed, Several Injured or Missing After Volcano Erupts in New Zealand: ‘No Signs of Life’

Barham told PEOPLE on Tuesday she was en route to Auckland.

Matt, meanwhile, was reportedly taken to a different hospital in Christchurch with burns covering about 80 percent of his body.

Barham told the Post she was angry that her daughter and son-in-law were allowed to travel to the island, considering reports that the volcano had ongoing activity just days earlier.

“There’s been warnings about it. … My son-in-law never would have booked the excursion if he knew there was any chance of them being injured,” she said.

Police are investigating, but said it is too early to tell whether there will be a criminal investigation surrounding safety rules on the island, the Herald reported.