Two brothers who moved from Northbrook to Australia were confirmed Wednesday as the latest victims of the volcanic eruption in New Zealand, according to Australian media reports.
Berend Hollander, 16, and Matthew Hollander, 14, were initially listed as missing, but the headmaster at their school in suburban Sydney, Australia, announced the grim news Wednesday in a letter to parents, according to Australian Broadcasting Corp. and The Sydney Morning Herald.
”It is with the greatest sadness that I can confirm that Matthew Hollander (Year 8) and Berend (known at ‘Ben’) Hollander (Year 10) have passed away in hospital as a result of injuries sustained in the White Island volcano eruption,” Scott James, the headmaster at Knox Grammar, wrote. “Please take some time to reflect on the lives of Matthew and Ben and this devastating loss for our community.”
James said Matthew was popular among his peers: “He was always enthusiastic about life and was actively involved in school and year group activities.”
The headmaster described his brother Berend as a compassionate and enthusiastic student: “Ben’s engaging smile and quirky sense of humor made him a good mate to his close group of friends and a welcome member to every classroom.”
The boys’ parents, Martin and Barbara Hollander, were still listed as missing Wednesday.
The Hollander family lived in Northbrook for about five years, leaving for Australia, the father’s birthplace, about four years ago, former neighbor Jeff Richmond told the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday.
“A great, outgoing family — loved sports,” said Richmond, whose oldest son had babysat for the Hollander family’s two boys. “They were always outside in the neighborhood, engaging with neighbors and friends.”
Richmond said the Hollanders had lived two houses down from his Northbrook home. The boys attended Wescott School in Northbrook. The neighborhood threw a party of the family when they got set to return to Martin Hollander’s homeland about four year ago, Richmond said.
Eight deaths have been confirmed in the eruption, which sent a tower of steam and ash an estimated 12,000 feet into the air. The bodies of eight other people are believed to remain on the ash-covered island. And 30 people were hospitalized, including 25 in critical condition. Many of the injured suffered severe burns and were being treated at hospital burn units around New Zealand.
The Hollanders, who now live in a suburb of Sydney, Australia, were aboard the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas and were believed to be on a shore excursion when the volcano erupted, according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald.
Almost 48 hours after a volcanic explosion in New Zealand killed at least six people, Sydney brothers Matthew and Berend and their parents remain missing https://t.co/jbMqAZjm1m— The Sydney Morning Herald (@smh) December 11, 2019
According to his LinkedIn profile, Martin Hollander is an investment director in Sydney with Wipunen Incrementum Capital but has held positions with Chicago firms.
Volcanic tremors on White Island were intensifying to a level not seen since an eruption in 2016, the GeoNet seismic monitoring agency said, calculating a 40% to 60% chance of another eruption within the next 24 hours.
Meanwhile, Australia was sending a military plane to bring some of the Australians injured in the eruption to Australia for specialist medical care. Authorities expected to transport 10 injured patients to New South Wales and Victoria states beginning Thursday.