A volcano eruption on a New Zealand island has killed at least six people and left countless more severely injured, including an American couple who suffered extreme burns while fleeing the unexpected explosion.
Honeymooners Lauren and Matthew Urey were among the passengers of a docked Royal Caribbean cruise ship who decided to explore the popular tourist site White Island when the island's volcano erupted about 2 p.m. Monday, Matthew's mother Janet Urey told Inside Edition.
The couple suffered severe burns as they were evacuated and were rushed to a hospital.
"This isn't a joke. The volcano actually erupted while we were on the island," Matthew told his mother in a voicemail. "Lauren and I got pretty badly burned so we're at the hospital in New Zealand.
"My hands are burned so I can't use my phone," he continued. "I don't know how long I'll be here but I'll try and keep you updated as best I can."
Matthew suffered bad burns to his arms, legs and back, his mother said. He did not immediately know information about his wife's condition.
"He had not seen Lauren, she was in a different area so he really didn't know her status," Janet said. "We still do not know anything about Lauren and i'm extremely worried and concerned and upset with the communication, or lack thereof."
When asked who she was hoping to have heard from, be it the embassy, hospital where her son and daughter-in-law were being treated, or the cruise line, Janet said "anybody!"
"I contacted the embassy, I contacted the hospital, they could not give me any information," she said. "The embassy assured me they would contact me the minute they heard anything. I've yet to hear from them. I have heard nothing from the cruise line at all."
Plastic surgeons are assessing Matthew's injuries. Lauren suffered burns on 25% of her body and her parents flying to New Zealand.
At least five people were killed in the eruption. A sixth person was rushed to a hospital, but later died of their injuries. Police were able to rescue 23 people from the island, but others are missing.
“No signs of life have been seen at any point,” New Zealand police said in a statement, adding that they have taken several aerial reconnaissance flights over the island since the eruption. “Police believe that anyone who could have been taken from the island alive was rescued at the time of the evacuation. Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island."
Authorities said the island remains “extremely volatile” in the aftermath the eruptions, and experts have warned that more eruptions are possible. Officials asked that those with missing family and friends to either register them with the New Zealand Red Cross or contact police.