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American couple on honeymoon in New Zealand severely burned in volcano eruption

At least six people are confirmed dead and eight others who are missing are presumed dead after the eruption on White Island.
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A man and a woman from Virginia who were honeymooning in New Zealand are among those severely injured in a volcano eruption there Monday.

Six people are confirmed dead and another eight who are missing are presumed dead following the eruption on Whakaari White Island that sent an ash plume thousands of feet in the air, authorities said.

Matthew and Lauren Urey, of Richmond, were among 47 visitors believed to have been on the island at the time of the explosion, nine of them Americans.

Both the husband and wife, who married in October, were badly burned, Lauren Urey's father, Rick Barham, told NBC News.

Lauren Urey was taken to a hospital in Auckland, the country's largest city, where she is undergoing treatment for severe burns on 25 percent of her body, Barham said. Matthew Urey was taken to Christchurch, where he was in intensive care as of Monday afternoon with burns on 80 percent of his body.

"It’s been a total nightmare," Barham told NBC News via Facebook Messenger, adding that he is trying to get a visa to fly to New Zealand.

Image: Matthew and Lauren Urey, who were among one of the injured after the volcano erupted in White Island, New Zealand.
Matthew and Lauren Urey, who were among one of the injured after the volcano erupted in White Island, New Zealand.

"We are being told it could take 10 minutes to 72 hours," for travel papers to be processed, Barham said, adding that he feels largely in the dark about the couple's condition. "We have gotten no help from anyone."

Matthew Urey's mother, Janet, said she learned of her son's and daughter-in-law's injuries from a voicemail he left her.

"I didn't even listen to the full message ... I quickly called him back," Janet Urey said. She said her son's hands were severely burned, which made it difficult for him to use the phone.

Police have not released the identities of the victims of the explosion on the private island 30 miles off the northeast New Zealand coast. NBC News has confirmed that among the dead is tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman, named by his brother on social media.

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Thirty patients are being treated at seven hospitals, and the country's burn units were full to capacity, according to the country's Ministry of Health.

"To those who have lost or missing family and friends, we share in your grief and sorrow and we are devastated," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.