20 Y.O. QLD Woman & Her Mum Identified As First Australian Victims Of NZ Volcano Tragedy

A 20-year-old Brisbane woman and her 47-year-old Mum have been formally identified as the first two Australian victims of Monday’s volcano eruption disaster in New Zealand.

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Jessica Richards and her mother Julie are confirmed to be among the six confirmed deaths, after the Whakaari volcano erupted Monday afternoon while tourists travelling on the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship were present on the island.

The Brisbane mother and daughter failed to return to the cruise ship after the tragedy, leading family members to fear the worst. Those fears were realised this afternoon, with authorities in New Zealand reportedly contacting family members to confirm that Julie and Jessica’s bodies had been found.

The family has not yet issued public comment on the matter, but a formal statement is expected later this afternoon.

The tragic news comes on the heels of the more positive development that 19-year-old Sydney man Jesse Langford, who was also said to be on the island at the time of the eruption, has miraculously been found alive.

7 News has reported that relatives of Langford have been informed that he is alive, and are currently flying to New Zealand to be with him. His condition is not publicly known at this time. His sister and both his parents, who were also on the island, remain unaccounted for.


32-year-old Coffs Harbour man Richard Esker has reportedly also been found alive in hospital. Two people he was travelling with are still missing.

So far six people have been confirmed dead as a result of the eruption, with a further 25 in critical condition suffering horrific burns. 24 Australians were present on the island when the volcano erupted. 10 remain unaccounted for.