CANBERRA: Australia’s prime minister said on Tuesday that 11 Australians remained unaccounted for and 13 had been hospitalised after a volcano eruption in New Zealand.

Three Australians were suspected to be among the initial five confirmed dead, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

I fear there is worse news to come over the course of perhaps today or over the next few days, Morrison said.

This is a terrible tragedy, a time of great innocence and joy interrupted by the horror of that eruption, he added.

Australians were the largest group of nationalities that were exploring White Island when it erupted on Monday.

The 24 injured and unaccounted, whose ages range from 17 to 72, had been part of a tour group from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Ovation of the Seas, which had left Sydney last week for a New Zealand voyage.

Morrison, a former director of the New Zealand Office of Tourism and Sport who has visited White Island in the past, said Australian police who specialise in identifying disaster victims was flying to New Zealand on Tuesday.

Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2019