A Liverpool university graduate and her mum have suffered serious burns in the New Zealand volcano eruption.

White Island, also known by the Maori name Whakaari, erupted at 2.11pm local time on December 9.

Police confirmed the sixteenth victim died on Saturday.

According to The Times, Liverpool John Moores graduate Heather McGill, 34, and her mum Liz, 67, were on holiday when the disaster happened.

Family return from the Frigate HMNZS Wellington where they observed a minutes silence near White Island

Ian McGill, 68, the former husband of Mrs McGill, told the paper: "They have burns. I'm not going to say to what extent but suffice to say they are likely to be there for some time."

The mother and daughter will be treated at the Salisbury district hospital in Wiltshire on their return.

Mr McGill added: "I have no information regarding [their recovery] but when they do come back they will be in the burns unit in Salisbury.

Ben Murray, Mrs McGill's neighbor said: "I saw her son last week and he said he was going out there the following day to be with them.

"He said they were lucky because they were on their way out when the explosion happened."

Flowers are seen on the fence near the Whakatane Wharf

Two four-person teams landed on the volcanic White Island by helicopter early on Sunday and searched a location thought to be where one of the bodies might be.

The teams were wearing heavy protective clothing due to the toxic air and gases present on the island as a result of the eruption. 

New Zealand Police national operations commander John Tims said the search will continue.

Police divers prepare to search the waters near White Island off the coast of Whakatane

Speaking earlier this week, he said:"We have always anticipated recovering all bodies from the island, and we remain deeply committed to that goal, to allow families some closure.

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"We are now debriefing, reassessing and coming up with a new plan going forward."

Mr Tims said the process of identifying victims and releasing bodies to their loved ones was ongoing in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city. 

The first victim to be named was Krystal Browitt, a veterinary nursing student from Melbourne, Australia, who turned 21 on November 29.

The Foreign Office in London declined to comment to The Times.