A Sydney father-of-two who was caught up in the White Island volcano disaster was confirmed dead on Sunday as police formally identified three more victims.
The dad-of-two, his wife Kristine, 44, and their two children Jesse, 19, and Winona, 17, had been on holiday on the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship that set sail from Sydney.
The family-of-four had been celebrating Mr Langford’s birthday and were all on a tour of the island when the volcano erupted.
Jesse was found alive in hospital with burns to 90 per cent of his body, but Kristine and Winona remain unaccounted for.
Anthony (far right) 51, and Kristine, 44, (second from right) Langford and their children Jesse, 19, (left) and Winona, 17, (second from left) set sail from Sydney last week on a Royal Caribbean cruise
Mr Langford (center) 51, was formally identified by police on Sunday as a victim in White Island eruption. His wife and daughter remain missing
Injured: Jesse Langford, 19, was found in hospital, alive but with burns to 90 per cent of his body
Police released the names of four people, including three Australians, on Sunday after completing disaster victim identification work.
In addition to Mr Langford, Adelaide schoolgirl Zoe Hosking, 15 and her stepfather Gavin Dallow, 53, were formally identified, as well as New Zealand tour guide Tipene Maangi, 24.
They are believed to be among the bodies recovered on Friday during a high-stakes mission to retrieve eight victims who were still on the island.
In total, 47 people were on White Island during Monday’s disaster.
The New Zealand Health Ministry confirmed the death toll as of Sunday morning was 15 after a patient in Waikato Hospital died from their injuries on Saturday night.
There are 14 patients being cared for in four burns units around New Zealand – Middlemore, Hutt Valley, Waikato, and Christchurch – with 10 listed as critical.
Nine Australians are confirmed dead and a further two are presumed to have died.
Last week, Langford family relatives who flew to New Zealand in a desperate search said they found no trace of the missing family members and believe the three didn’t survive.
Other family members said they believed the trio never made it off the island and were waiting on the bodies to be retrieved for DNA tests to confirm.
Mrs Langford had shared a photo of herself, her husband, and Jesse – presumably taken by Winona – of them about to board the ship.
Recovery teams have been conducting dangerous search operations to recover missing bodies on the island since Friday. Police said divers faced ‘unique and challenging conditions’ as they searched waters ‘with between zero and two metres visibility’
The rescuers disembarked their vessel at the same position where just days earlier the excited tourists first set foot on White Island. New Zealand authorities believe the force of the volcanic eruption resulted in one of the victims being knocked into the water
‘My first post in a while. We’re off cruising on #royalcarribeancruise Happy birthday [Anthony Langford]. Bon voyage everyone!’ she wrote.
Jesse’s former principal at Marist College North Shore, Tony Duncan, asked parents and staff to pray for his recovery.
‘Jesse, who graduated last year, was a talented and popular student during his time at the school, finishing up as MacKillop House captain.
‘Jesse has been a student at Marist since Year 7, with his family remembered fondly around the College. Please have the Langford family in your prayers.’
Mr Langford was a long-time employee of Sydney Water and his wife was a stay-home mother to the two children.
The news comes after a second Sydney family were believed to have been wiped out in the disaster after two relatives were declared dead and two others are still missing.
Matthew Hollander, 13, and his brother Berend, 16, schoolboys at Sydney’s Knox Grammar, both died in hospital after suffering serious injuries in the blast.
Zoe Hosking, from Adelaide, and her stepfather Gavin Dallow, 53, were among those who were formally declared dead on Sunday
New Zealand tour guide Tipene Maangi, 24, was formally identified by police as a victim on Sunday
Krystal Eve Browitt, 21, from Melbourne (pictured) was formally identified as the first Australian victim of Monday’s White Island volcano disaster
Their parents Martin, 48, and Barbara Hollander, 50, remain missing and are presumed dead.
A follow-up mission to New Zealand’s White Island failed to retrieve the two remaining bodies still missing after Monday’s volcanic eruption.
Defence force operatives returned to the surface of Whakaari on Sunday, two days after their first high-stakes trip to the active volcano brought back six bodies.
Police understand eight people were killed on the island.
They spent Saturday debriefing the operation and searching nearby waters – contaminated from the blast and contained dead fish and eels – for the last two bodies.
Mission command firmly believe a seventh body is in the water, and are increasingly convinced the eighth could be too.
However, both Saturday’s water-based search and Sunday’s landing have failed to turn up the remains.
‘It’s been a blow for police,’ deputy commissioner Mike Clement said,
Sydney schoolboys, Berend Hollander, 16, (left) and his brother Matthew, 13, (right) were injured in the eruption but later died in hospital. They both studied at Sydney’s Knox Grammar school
The boys’ parents Barbara and Martin Hollander (pictured) are still missing but are believed to be dead
‘Everyone went out there desperate to find the bodies … it’s been tough going for everybody.
‘We understand completely how frustrating it is for loved ones who want the bodies back.’
As of Sunday afternoon NZDT, divers are now back in the water around the Bay of Plenty island, hoping they can reach a breakthrough.
The situation on the volcano, New Zealand’s most active, remains volatile and dangerous.
The latest update from geological monitoring agency GeoNet left the alert level at two and suggested there was a 30 to 45 per cent chance of an eruption in the next day.
National Operations Commander and New Zealand police deputy commissioner John Tims said Sunday morning’s visit was quicker than Friday’s four-hour salvage effort.
The retrieval team wore the same protective clothing as Friday but carried a diminished breathing apparatus, ‘meaning they will only be able to stay on the island for up to 75 minutes’, Tims said.
More people travelled to Whakaari – two teams of four search and rescue operatives, as well as disaster victim Identification staff.
‘These police staff will be deployed to an area of the island where our best information suggests a body might be,’ Tims said prior to the mission.
A police Eagle helicopter hovered over the island to support the search, with a GNS Science staff member.
Despite returning back to the mainland empty-handed, police have underlined their commitment to the job.
‘We remain committed to finishing the task at hand and returning the two remaining bodies to their loved ones,’ Tims said.