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American newlyweds found alive with severe burns after New Zealand volcano eruption

Death toll rises after volcano erupts in New Zealand
WATCH ABOVE: One day after the volcano on New Zealand's White Island erupted and killed six people, the search continues for eight missing tourists presumed dead. As Mike Armstrong reports, there are growing questions about why tourists were allowed on the island in the first place.

A missing Virginia couple honeymooning in New Zealand has been found after they went missing following the White Island volcano eruption.

Newlyweds Lauren and Matt Urey were transported to separate hospitals for treatment of severe burns.

The couple hadn’t been heard from since Matt left his wife’s mom, Barbara Barham, a disturbing message detailing the harrowing situation.

The Washington Post reported the couple’s respective hospitals informed Barham of their whereabouts shortly after they were rescued from White Island.

READ MORE: New Zealand volcano — Photos show chaos, aftermath of deadly eruption

New Zealand volcano erupts, killing 5 people
New Zealand volcano erupts, killing 5 people

Matt, who was transported to Christchurch, was found with burns covering 80 per cent of his body, while Lauren, who was taken to Auckland, suffered wounds on 20 per cent of her body.

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Barham told the publication he had left a voicemail saying “there had been a volcano eruption and they were burned very bad.”

“He said he would try to call as soon as he could but talking and making phone calls was difficult,” she said. “His hands were so badly burned it was hard for him to make a phone call.”

NEW ZEALAND VOLCANO ERUPTION

New Zealand authorities say death toll from White Island volcano has risen to 6
New Zealand authorities say death toll from White Island volcano has risen to 6

Barham said she heard from the couple earlier that day, when they said they weren’t worried about a volcanic eruption.

On Dec. 3, there were reports of “moderate volcanic unrest” with elevated “volcanic gas emission and seismic activity.”

Mark Law, a commercial helicopter pilot who rescued 12 victims from the island, wasn’t supposed to be flying on Monday when the eruption occurred, the Guardian reports.

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Law said he was unsure whether emergency services would reach the island, given how dangerous it was. Instead, he led a rescue team that flew to the volcano and spent an hour on the ground loading victims into helicopters for transport.

READ MORE: ‘Just surreal’ — Canadian actor recounts horror of New Zealand volcano eruption

“We heard they were not coming to the island,” the 48-year-old told the publication. “It’s their decision. I wasn’t involved in that. We just took care of our business.”

“We found people dead, dying and alive but in various states of unconsciousness.”

At least five people have been confirmed dead, 30 are wounded and eight remain missing. Police do not expect to find any more survivors.

New Zealand authorities say 5 dead, 8 missing and 31 in hospital after White Island volcanic eruption
New Zealand authorities say 5 dead, 8 missing and 31 in hospital after White Island volcanic eruption

“This is very sadly a recovery operation,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “No signs of life have been seen at any point.”

Police believe anyone who could have been taken from the island alive was rescued during the initial evacuation.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

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