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American dies of volcano eruption injuries

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — An American husband and wife have now both died from injuries suffered in a New Zealand volcanic eruption, authorities said Thursday, leaving behind twin 6-year-old girls and an 11-year-old boy.

Pratap Singh battled for 50 days before dying from his burns on Jan. 28, police and family members said. His wife, Mayuari, died at the same Auckland hospital five weeks earlier.

The couple’s nephew Vick Singh wrote a powerful statement about their lives and their ordeal, describing how they were loved in their community and how they might have been saved by proper safety equipment.

Known as Paul and Mary, the Atlanta-area couple had been visiting New Zealand’s White Island volcano with dozens of other tourists on Dec. 9 when it erupted, scalding them with super-heated water from below the crater surface.

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Twenty-one people have died. In all, 47 people were visiting the island at the time of the eruption, and many still remain hospitalized with severe burns.

Tour operator White Island Tours has so far declined to comment in detail on what went wrong that day.

ASSOCIATED PRESS