Newlyweds burned by volcanic eruption on New Zealand honeymoon cruise

Newlyweds burned by volcanic eruption on New Zealand honeymoon cruise
Newlyweds burned by volcanic eruption on New Zealand honeymoon cruise  

A Virginia couple who were on their honeymoon in New Zealand are among those severely injured after a volcano violently erupted Monday.

The newlyweds, Lauren and Matt Urey of Richmond, were touring the White Island volcano on the Royal Caribbean cruise Ovation of the Seas, according to WTVR-TV.

Lauren's mother, Barbara Barham, told The Washington Post while leaving Virginia to New Zealand that she had no idea what happened until Royal Caribbean called her a little after midnight Eastern time on Monday.

Then she got a call from Matt's mother who said she received a voicemail from her son saying that the couple was severely burned and taken to the hospital.

In a statement sent to USA TODAY on Tuesday, Royal Caribbean said the company is communicating with guests and their families in the aftermath of the tragedy.

"We're making sure they are taken care of in terms of medical help, counseling, accommodations and transport," the company said. "Our hearts go out to them, and we want to be as supportive as we can."

The Washington Post reported that Lauren is recovering in an Auckland hospital while Matt was airlifted to a hospital in Christchurch.

GeoNet had raised its alert level on White Island from one to two on Nov. 18 as sulfur dioxide gas increased.

Early warning signs: Why were tourists on White Island after volcanic activity increased?

According to GeoNet, a level two warning means there are "unrest hazards on the volcano and could include eruptions of steam, gas, mud and rocks. These eruptions can occur with little or no warning."

GeoNet had been providing updates on the volcanic unrest on the island in the days leading up to the eruption.

Many people were left questioning why tourists were allowed to visit the island after seismic monitoring experts raised the volcano's alert level last month.

Royal Caribbean did not directly comment on the warnings.

Relatives told WTVR that 32-year-old Lauren and 36-year-old Matt are a "sweet couple." According to details hosted on the wedding website The Knot, they were married on Oct. 18 in Charleston, South Carolina.

What is a cone volcano?: The science behind the deadly New Zealand eruption

New Zealand volcano eruption: Royal Caribbean cruise nearby, other travel effects

The couple is one of the 30 people hospitalized after Monday's eruption. Five people died at the time of the blast or soon after, while a sixth person died Tuesday night local time at an Auckland hospital.

Another eight people are believed to have died, with their bodies remaining on the ash-covered island for now. At least 47 people were on the island at the time of the eruption.

Contributing: Ryan Miller, USA TODAY; Associated Press. Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New Zealand volcano eruption: Virginia newlyweds injured on honeymoon


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