Two teenage brothers with ties to the Chicago area are among the victims who lost their lives after a volcano erupted in New Zealand on Monday .
Matthew and Berend Hollander died in a hospital as a result of injuries from the White Island volcano eruption, according to a letter addressed to parents from Knox Grammar School, the boys’ school in Australia.
The Chicago Tribune reports Berend was 16 and Matthew was 13.
Their parents, Martin and Barbara Hollander, are unaccounted for, the school says.
The family moved from Northbrook, a suburb north of Chicago, to Australia about five years ago, WLS-TV reported. The teens’ mother is from the area, and their father is from Sydney.
“We are together with our family grieving the loss of our loved ones,” Barbara’s parents said in a statement sent to the TV station. “Our amazing daughter, Barbara Hollander, and our son-in-law, Martin Hollander, were a wonderful couple and parents to our grandsons.”
The school memorialized the brothers in its letter: “Matthew had a close circle of friends and was popular amongst his peers. He was always enthusiastic about life and was actively involved in school and year group activities.”
“Ben was a compassionate and enthusiastic student, with an interest in software design. Ben’s engaging smile and quirky sense of humour made him a good mate to his close group of friends and a welcome member to every classroom.”
Family members released a statement through Knox Grammar School requesting privacy.
“We are absolutely heartbroken by this loss,” the family said in a statement. “Ben and Matthew were wonderfully kind and spirited boys who lived short but very fulsome lives.
“They loved Knox and all their friends, and the Australian sports and outdoor lifestyle they adopted on moving from the United States six years ago. They had a positive and lasting impact on everyone’s paths they crossed.”
New Zealand medical staff were continuing to work around the clock treating severely burned survivors of the eruption as the estimated death toll climbed to 16 early Thursday.
The enormity of the task facing doctors in burn units around the country became clear when Dr. Peter Watson, a chief medical officer, said at a news conference that they had needed to order extra skin from American skin banks.
Watson said staff anticipated needing an extra 1,300 square feet of skin for grafts for patients. Most of those who survived the eruption suffered burns, and 28 patients remain hospitalized, including 23 in critical condition.
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Police believe 47 visitors were on the island at the time of the eruption, 24 of them Australian, nine Americans, five New Zealanders and others from Germany, the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Many were passengers aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Ovation of the Seas.
A risky mission to recover bodies from the island on Friday morning local time recovered multiple bodies from the island.
Contributing: Joel Shannon, USA TODAY; T Associated Press. Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.