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Death toll rises to 17 after New Zealand eruption

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By Tim Stelloh  with NBC News World News
Image: Elite soldiers taking part in a mission to retrieve bodies from Whit
Elite soldiers take part in a mission Dec. 13 to retrieve bodies from White Island after the volcanic eruption in New Zealand.   -   Copyright  New Zealand Defence Force

Another person has died after a volcanic eruption on a New Zealand island earlier this month, bringing the death toll to 17, authorities said Monday.

The person, who was not identified, died Sunday night at a hospital in the city of Auckland, New Zealand Police Deputy Commissioner John Tims said in a statement.

Two people — a 40-year-old New Zealand man and an Australian teen — were still missing after the Dec. 9 eruption on White Island, Tims said last week.

The smoldering White Island volcano off the coast of New Zealand\'s North Island in a photo released on Dec. 10.
The smoldering White Island volcano off the coast of New Zealand\'s North Island in a photo released on Dec. 10.Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust

He added that experts believed their bodies had likely washed out to sea.

"We have always had an expectation of ourselves and others that all bodies would be recovered so it's both disappointing and frustrating to be in this position," he said.

Forty-seven people were visiting the privately owned volcanic island, a popular tourist destination off the east coast of New Zealand's north island, when the eruption occurred.

Several Americans were among the dead and injured. A newlywed couple on honeymoon from Richmond, Virginia, were badly burned, relatives said. Two teenage brothers visiting from Australia, where they had moved with their parents, died, according to authorities.