After three days of land and sea searches near New Zealand's White Island in a bid to recover the bodies of those killed in Monday's volcanic eruption, there is a small but growing realisation the grim task may never be completed.
Two deaths on the weekend - an Australian in a Sydney hospital, and a person of unknown nationality in Waikato Hospital - has the official toll from the deadly blast at 16.
A further two people are missing, with their bodies believed to be in the waters around Whakaari.
The retrieval of six bodies on Friday in an audacious rescue mission brought hope that all bodies may be found.
After a weekend of fruitless searches in the contaminated water around the active volcano, and a shorter return to the land near the crater itself, that hope is diminishing.
Whereas previously police were "absolutely committed to recovering bodies", a subtle shift in language on Sunday to "providing a sense of closure" reflects the challenge of the retrieval process.
"While it is frustrating not to have located the remaining two bodies, I'd like to reiterate our commitment to doing all we can to provide a sense of closure to the grieving families," New Zealand police deputy commissioner John Tims said from Wellington.
Fellow deputy commissioner Mike Clement, stationed in Whakatane, said the weekend had "been a blow for police".
"Everyone went out there desperate to find the bodies ... it's been tough going for everybody," he said.
"We understand completely how frustrating it is for loved ones who want the bodies back."
It is believed that at least one of the bodies belongs to an Australian.
One of the male victims caught in Monday's White Island volcano eruption died in Sydney's Concord Hospital, NSW Health said in a statement on Sunday, bringing the number of Australians killed in the disaster to ten.
The family requested that the latest victim's name and age not be released.
Another dozen Australians are still being treated in local hospitals after being repatriated with severe burns.
There are 14 patients being cared for in four burns units around New Zealand - Middlemore, Hutt Valley, Waikato, and Christchurch - with 10 listed as critical.
After completing the disaster victim identification work, police on Sunday also released the names of seven more people, including four Australians and two Americans with Australian permanent residency, who died in the tragedy.
They are Adelaide schoolgirl Zoe Hosking, 15, her stepfather Gavin Dallow, 53, Karla Mathews, 32, and Sydney man Anthony Langford, 51.
American teenagers Matthew and Berend Hollander, 13 and 16, and Kiwi tour guide Tipene Maangi, 24, were also named.
Sunday's return to the surface of the ashened landscape came despite ongoing seismic activity.
The latest update from geological monitoring agency GeoNet left the alert level at two and suggested there was a 30 to 45 per cent chance of an eruption in the next day.
Sunday morning's visit was quicker than Friday's four-hour salvage effort.
The retrieval team wore the same protective clothing as Friday but carried a diminished breathing apparatus, "meaning they will only be able to stay on the island for up to 75 minutes", Tims said.
More people travelled to Whakaari; two teams of four search and rescue operatives, as well as disaster victim Identification staff.
A police Eagle helicopter hovered over the island to support the search, with a GNS Science staff member.