This handout photo taken and released on December 13, 2019 by the New Zealand Defence Force shows elite soldiers taking part in a mission to retrieve bodies from White Island after the December 9 volcanic eruption, off the coast from Whakatane on the North Island.— AFP/VNA Photo
WELLINGTON — The death toll from New Zealand's devastating White Island eruption has risen to 19, with police confirming on Monday another death in hospital.
The toll includes two people whose bodies have not been recovered.
A police spokesman said they were informed that a person had died late Sunday in an Auckland hospital.
There were 47 people, mainly Australian tourists, on the island when it erupted on December 9, and 25 remain in hospital. Many are still in a critical condition.
The sea search for the two missing people continues, although it has been scaled down.
"We haven't given up," deputy police commissioner Mike Clement said after telling the families why they believed the bodies were not on the island.
"But we are literally in the hands of the sea... the reality is we cannotbe precise.
"I think the family understands as time passes it means less chance butnot, no chance." — AFP