A Brisbane mother and her daughter have been identified as the first two Australians killed in the Whakaari/White Island volcano disaster.

Julie Richards, 47, and her daughter Jessica, 20, were named by police on Wednesday.

The victims' family were contacted this morning with the news, and friend and spokesman John Mickel said they were "devastated".

Australians Julie Richards and her daughter Jessica have been named by police as two of those killed in the Whakaari/White Island eruption. Photo / Supplied
Australians Julie Richards and her daughter Jessica have been named by police as two of those killed in the Whakaari/White Island eruption. Photo / Supplied

"It is devastating news. The family is united in grief. It was not so long ago they were celebrating an 85th birthday, they were thrilled they were embarking on a cruise, and now the festive season ... this will be one of deep poignancy for the family."

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Mickel, a Queensland politician, said the mother and daughter were known as "outdoors and adventurous" people and loved cruising.

"If there was an adventure that offered itself, then they would be the ones to do it."

Jessica was a promising AFL player, and was studying veterinary science at the University of Queensland, Mickel said.

Julie Richards, right, aged 47 and daughter Jessica Richards, 20, were visiting Whakaair/White Island when the volcano erupted. Photo / Supplied
Julie Richards, right, aged 47 and daughter Jessica Richards, 20, were visiting Whakaair/White Island when the volcano erupted. Photo / Supplied

He said the family were united in grief.

"You live in hope it's not going to be your loved one's name that comes up," he said.

"But the hope was snuffed out this morning with the message from the New Zealand police.

"Today is the roughest day, and there's going to be a couple of rough days ahead as they come to the realisation that this tragedy has impacted on them when we're a couple of weeks out from Christmas."

Earlier, family had taken to social media to share their grief as they waited for news.

Jen Eborn, Richards' sister-in-law, wrote: "The family are praying for a miracle to bring them back to us."

The news comes as a Sydney teen who was missing, presumed dead, has been found alive in hospital two days after the volcano erupted, killing at least six people.

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Jesse Langford, 19, was among 19 Australians who were unaccounted for on Wednesday morning after the dormant volcano sprang to life with 47 people on top of it on Monday afternoon.

Jesse Langford was missing, presumed dead, but has reportedly been found alive.
Jesse Langford was missing, presumed dead, but has reportedly been found alive.

He and his sister, as well as their parents, were holidaying on the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas when they decided to take a tour to the volcano off the coast of Whakatāne.

It's not clear where Jesse was located but it is believed the rest of his family are still missing.

The news comes as 25 people are in a critical condition and grave fears are held for at least eight Australians.

The gruesome task of scouring the ash-covered Whakaari by drone and flyover will continue today as families of the missing wait for agonising phone calls that their loved ones' bodies have been found.

Six people have been confirmed dead in the terrifying eruption off the coast of New Zealand just after 2pm on Monday, while eight are still missing, but presumed dead.

The other three victims include White Island tour guide New Zealander Hayden Marshall-Inman and a Malaysian national. The identity and origin of the sixth victim is not known.

There were 47 people on the island when ash spewed from a dormant crater. Of those, 24 were Australians who had been visiting the island.

Meanwhile, more details have emerged today about the survivors who were hospitalised across New Zealand after the Whakaari/White Island eruption.

There are 30 patients in six hospitals - Middlemore, Hutt Valley, Auckland City, Tauranga, Waikato and Christchurch - and 25 of those patients are critical, with the remainder in a serious but stable condition.

-with news.com.au