digital art for nsw story victims returning
digital art for nsw story victims returning

’I love you bro.. I’m coming to bring you home’

TEN New South Wales residents who were injured in the White Island volcano disaster are being flown to Sydney to receive critical care.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the patients will be treated in NSW Health's world-leading adult burns units, with three arriving overnight at Concord Hospital and one at Royal North Shore Hospital.

NSW Health is working with Commonwealth agencies to facilitate the safe return of residents, some of whom have life-threatening burn injuries.

"Together with our Federal counterparts, we have offered assistance to the New Zealand Government to help co-ordinate the aeromedical retrievals, which commenced overnight," Dr Chant said.

 

The RAAF have transported victims of the New Zealand Volcano eruption on White Island to Australia for medical attention. The RAAF C-17 aircraft landed at Sydney Airport overnight and patients were taken to the Concord Hospital burns unit. Pics Bill Hearne
The RAAF have transported victims of the New Zealand Volcano eruption on White Island to Australia for medical attention. The RAAF C-17 aircraft landed at Sydney Airport overnight and patients were taken to the Concord Hospital burns unit. Pics Bill Hearne

All the victims are adults and are being assessed based on clinical priority after the Australian Overseas Mass Casualty Response Plan was activated to address the tragic outcome of this event.

"At this terribly sad time when we have lost fellow Australians, I commend the co-operation of both New Zealand and local health authorities to orchestrate the safe return of these patients who will receive the best care available."

The NSW Health Aeromedical Retrieval team expects various aircraft from both New Zealand and Australia to undertake the medevac operation based on the advice of the NZ Intensive Care Unit and Burns Network.

 

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VICTIMS NAMED

Devastated friends of NSW couple Karla Matthews, 32, and Richard Elzer, 32, issued a statement saying that the Coffs Harbour pair had tragically lost their lives on White Island.

Their friend, Jason Griffiths, 33, has died in hospital, where he was "surrounded by friends and family members".

"On the 4th of December 2019, we embarked upon a cruise as a group of nine close friends who were looking forward to a wonderful holiday together," the statement, which was signed Alex, Daniel, Ellie, Leanne, Paul and Samantha, said.

"We enjoyed the first five days of our trip and have many memories that will stay with us forever. On the 9th of December 2019, we were devastated by the news that three of our friends were visiting White Island on a shore excursion during the time of the eruption.

Victims Richard Elzer and Karla Matthews of Coffs Harbour. Picture: Facebook
Victims Richard Elzer and Karla Matthews of Coffs Harbour. Picture: Facebook


"Some time later, we discovered that two of our friends, Richard Elzer and Karla Mathews, were still on the island. We have been advised that there are no signs of life on the island.

"We then located our third friend, Jason Griffiths, in a hospital in the early hours of the next morning. From that moment until the moment of his passing, Jason was surrounded by friends and family members.

We are incredibly saddened to have lost three of our closest friends."

The distraught sister of volcano victim Mr Griffiths raced to her brother's bedside in New Zealand but was too late.

Coffs Harbour resident Melissa Griffiths took to Facebook to express her anguish - commenting that she "was too late".

"I love you bro, fly high I'm coming to bring you home … I promise I'll be there real soon I will miss you always," she posted initially.

"Now I just have to bring him home."

Jason was surrounded by family and friends when he died.

Tour guide operator Hayden Marshall-Inman from New Zealand was the first victim of the tragedy to be publicly named.

 

Year 8 student Matthew Hollander has died in hospital following the eruption on White Island.
Year 8 student Matthew Hollander has died in hospital following the eruption on White Island.

 

There are now ten people confirmed dead, including nine Australians.

Brothers Berend Hollander, 16, and Matthew Hollander, 13, were killed while visiting the site.

The pair attended Knox Grammar School in Wahroonga on Sydney's north shore.

It is with the greatest sadness that I can confirm that Matthew Hollander (Year 8) and Berend (known at 'Ben') Hollander (Year 10) have passed away in hospital as a result of injuries sustained in the White Island volcano eruption," the school's headmaster Scott James wrote in a letter to parents. "Please take some time to reflect on the lives of Matthew and Ben and this devastating loss for our community.

The sad letter sent out to the school community of Warrawee's Knox Grammar School by Headmaster Scott James. Source: Knox Grammar School
The sad letter sent out to the school community of Warrawee's Knox Grammar School by Headmaster Scott James. Source: Knox Grammar School

"It is with the greatest sadness that I can confirm that Matthew Hollander (Year 8) and Berend (known at 'Ben') Hollander (Year 10) have passed away in hospital as a result of injuries sustained in the White Island volcano eruption," the school's headmaster Scott James wrote in a letter to parents.

"Please take some time to reflect on the lives of Matthew and Ben and this devastating loss for our community.

"Matthew was a vibrant member of the Class of 2023. He was involved in cadets and representing the school in basketball, squash and debating. He was elected as a Mentor Representative in 2018/19. Matthew had a close circle of friends and was popular among his peers. He was always enthusiastic about life and was actively involved in school and year group activities.

"Ben was actively engaged in sports and co-curricular activities at Knox, developing a passion for AFL, cadets, CRU and his biggest passion, baseball. He had a great love for the outdoors and camp. Ben was a compassionate and enthusiastic student, with an interest in software design. Ben's engaging smile and quirky sense of humour made him a good mate to his close group of friends and a welcome member to every classroom."

 

 

 

Julie Richards, 47 and her daughter, Jessica Richards, 20, who were the first Australian victims of the volcanic eruption on White Island. Picture: Facebook
Julie Richards, 47 and her daughter, Jessica Richards, 20, who were the first Australian victims of the volcanic eruption on White Island. Picture: Facebook

Brisbane mother Julie Richards, 47, and her daughter Jessica, 20 as well as Adelaide lawyer Gavin Dallow and his 15-year-old daughter, Zoe, have also been confirmed along the dead.

Earlier, news emerged that two Australians injured in the White Island eruption have been found in hospitals as authorities confirmed the nine tourists listed as missing might never be found.

The sister-in-law of Julie Richards, 47, said the family have been left "devastated" after she was killed with her 20-year-old daughter Jessica in the eruption.

"To all our friends and family, it is with sad news that we have learnt the Julie Richards and Jessica Richards have been confirmed as deceased after being involved in the NZ volcano explosion," Jen Eborn said.

"Please be respectful and give us all time to work through this devastating news. RIP Julie and Jess we love you both."

 

RAAF crews dispatched to New Zealand in three aircraft to bring victims of the White Island volcano back to Australia for continued medical treatment. Source: Australian Defence Force.
RAAF crews dispatched to New Zealand in three aircraft to bring victims of the White Island volcano back to Australia for continued medical treatment. Source: Australian Defence Force.

 

The volcanic eruption on White Island, New Zealand. Authorities are still agonising over when to land on the island and remove bodies. Picture: Lillani Hopkins via AP
The volcanic eruption on White Island, New Zealand. Authorities are still agonising over when to land on the island and remove bodies. Picture: Lillani Hopkins via AP
Year 10 student Berend Hollander has also been confirmed dead. His parents Martin and Barbara Hollander are listed as missing.
Year 10 student Berend Hollander has also been confirmed dead. His parents Martin and Barbara Hollander are listed as missing.
Martin and Barbara Hollander who are still missing following the White Island Volcano eruption in New Zealand.
Martin and Barbara Hollander who are still missing following the White Island Volcano eruption in New Zealand.


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