The death toll rose after police said a 16th victim died at Sydney’s Concord Hospital, one of several hospitals in Australia which treated survivors for severe burns.
Most of those who were killed after the White Island volcano erupted earlier this week were tourists.
Divers failed to locate the bodies of two victims off the island but New Zealand Police national operations commander John Tims said the search will continue.
“We have always anticipated recovering all bodies from the island, and we remain deeply committed to that goal, to allow families some closure,” he said. “We are now debriefing, reassessing and coming up with a new plan going forward.”
The search teams wore heavy protective clothing due to the toxic air and gases present on the island as a result of the eruption.
Their breathing apparatus allowed them to search for only 75 minutes.
They were unable to locate either body and returned to the mainland where they underwent decontamination.
Mr Tims said the process of identifying victims and releasing bodies to their loved ones was ongoing in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.
“We will continue to release the names of those who have died as soon as we are able to,” he said.
Five victims have so far been named, four of whom are Australians.
Teenager Zoe Hoskin and her stepfather Gavin Dallow, both from Adelaide, were confirmed as dead. Lisa Dallow, Zoe’s mother, is being treated for severe burns.
Anthony Langford, from Sydney, has also been confirmed dead. He was travelling with his wife Kristine Langford and their children Jesse and Winona.
Jesse survived the eruption and was identified in a New Zealand hospital on Tuesday evening. His mother and sister are still unaccounted for.
The fourth person has been identified as New Zealand resident Tipene Maangi, 24.
Two British women were among those admitted to hospital in New Zealand after the volcano erupted.
All 13 Australians who suffered burns were transported to hospitals around Australia for treatment, at least eight of whom are reported to be in a critical condition.
Navy and police divers are expected to resume the search of waters around the island over the weekend.
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