11 Australians missing, 13 injured in New Zealand eruption

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s prime minister said on Tuesday 11 Australians remained unaccounted for and 13 had been hospitalized 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 that were exploring White Island when it erupted on Monday.

The 24 injured and unaccounted, aged from 17 to 72, had been part of a tour group from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Ovation of the Seas.

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

Several Australians were in critical condition and had been sent to burns units in several New Zealand hospitals, he said.