‘Oh no, that’s him’: Family’s agonisingly await news from NZ

THE brother of a northern Queensland man reported missing in New Zealand's volcano disaster have told of his family's great relief at hearing their relative is alive and well.

Townsville man Robert "Buck" Rogers was among the list of the 27 Australians listed missing by the New Zealand Red Cross, in the wake of the volcanic eruption on White Island.

Townsville residents Betty Winters and Robert
Townsville residents Betty Winters and Robert "Buck" Rogers on-board the Ovation of the Seas. Robert was listed as those missing after the volcano on White Island, New Zealand erupted and his family feared the worst.

The Herberton-born Robert, 78, finally got in contact with relatives in Victoria yesterday morning to let them know he and his wife, Betty, who were on-board Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas at the time of the eruption, were okay.

White Island Volcano in New Zealand has erupted today. Early reports are suggesting upwards of 20 people were on the Island when it erupted.
White Island Volcano in New Zealand has erupted today. Early reports are suggesting upwards of 20 people were on the Island when it erupted.

Mr Rogers' brother Arthur, said they had a very anxious night after watching the TV news and seeing Robert among the list of those feared dead.

"I looked up his itinerary on the computer, and saw that he was on Ovation of the Seas, and thought, 'oh no', that's him," he said.

Mr Rogers' daughter issued an alert via social media, and was contacted by a crew member on-board the ship, who was able confirm that Robert and Betty were still on-board the vessel.

The couple then contacted their family later yesterday morning.

"There was great relief," Mr Rogers said.

"When I spoke to them, they were sitting in the bar on the ship, with a band in the background.

"It sounded like they were having a great time."

Crew of the Ovation of the Seas watch on as Ngtai Te Rangi Iwi during the Karakia Whakatau Mauri (blessing/ A vigil of calm reflection) at the Tauranga Port, for the passengers on the cruise ship The Ovation of the Seas, a day after the eruption of White Island, of the coast of Whakatane, New Zealand. 10 December 2019 Photo: Brett Phibbs / NewsCorp
Crew of the Ovation of the Seas watch on as Ngtai Te Rangi Iwi during the Karakia Whakatau Mauri (blessing/ A vigil of calm reflection) at the Tauranga Port, for the passengers on the cruise ship The Ovation of the Seas, a day after the eruption of White Island, of the coast of Whakatane, New Zealand. 10 December 2019 Photo: Brett Phibbs / NewsCorp

The couple have been cruising the world, and booked a holiday on-board Ovation of the Seas, after Robert overcame a recent health issue.

Mr Rogers said it wasn't clear whether his brother had been and come back from an excursion to White Island, or never actually left the cruise ship.

"They were well offshore when the eruption happened," Mr Rogers said.

"I don't think they were any danger at all.

"But we're thanking our lucky stars they're both okay."

Betty Winters and Robert “Buck” Rogers from Townsville were on Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas during the eruption of White Island in New Zealand. Robert was reported missing by the NZ Red Cross.
Betty Winters and Robert “Buck” Rogers from Townsville were on Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas during the eruption of White Island in New Zealand. Robert was reported missing by the NZ Red Cross.

As of yesterday afternoon, a Sydney family of four, an Adelaide family of three and a Brisbane mother and daughter were still missing after the New Zealand volcano eruption. Three Australians are also believed to be among five people confirmed dead after the volcanic explosion engulfed tourists on White Island on Monday.

More Australians remain missing, while 13 are in hospital being treated for horrific burns and other injuries, the federal government said.