THE two British women injured in the volcano in New Zealand are believed to be a mother and daughter from Basingstoke.

Liz and Heather McGill are thought to be receiving treatment in two separate hospitals and have reportedly had multiple operations after being badly burned in the eruption on Monday, December 9, which has already claimed the lives of 16 people.

Their neighbour, who lives in Oakridge, told the Gazette he spoke to their son after the disaster, who said he was travelling to the country with his other sister to be with their mum and sibling.

Ben Murray, who has lived next door to the family for more than 20 years, said he had heard nothing since.

Basingstoke Gazette: The scene last week after the volcano erupted The scene last week after the volcano erupted

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The 85-year-old said: “They went on holiday to New Zealand and I heard last Wednesday a chap two doors down said her son David was looking for me and he said his mum and his sister were caught up in the volcano and were badly burned and he and his sister were going out there the next day. I haven’t heard anything since.

“He said they were a bit lucky because they were on their way out when the explosion happened. They are in hospital in New Zealand. I know them very well." He added: "They are next door neighbours and in the past, they asked me to look after the cat when they went away.

“I think they have had a few operations. But I think one is in hospital in the north and the other is in the south. The ambulance people didn’t know so they just took them.”

He said Heather, thought to be in her 30s, had just returned from working in China.

The eruption happened on White Island – known as Whakaari – at 2.11pm local time (1.11am GMT).

Of the 47 people on the island at the time, 24 were from Australia, nine from the US, five from New Zealand, four from Germany, two from China, two from the UK and one from Malaysia.

Two bodies are still missing, believed to be in the water off the island, and around 20 people remain in intensive care with severe burns.

New Zealand authorities have been unable to confirm the identity of the two British women.

The Ministry of Health said there are 14 patients being cared for at four hospitals around New Zealand – Middlemore, Hutt Valley, Waikato, and Christchurch. Ten of these patients are critical.

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