White Island (NZ) volcano erupts

Old Dec 8, 19, 9:36 pm
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White Island (NZ) volcano erupts

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/a...ectid=12292240

There were apparently some tourists at the island (from cruise ship Ovation of the Seas, and perhaps others), and there are injuries and some people initially unaccounted for.

This is near a common port, Tauranga.

We sailed here (different cruise line), and stopped at this port just two weeks ago.

GC
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Old Dec 8, 19, 9:42 pm
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Another report from the other NZ news source

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/118...-bay-of-plenty
<snip>
At least one person has been critically injured, and many more are still missing, after White Island erupted, spewing plumes of smoke into the air on Monday.

Up to 100 people were initially believed to be on or near the island at the time of the eruption around 2.30pm, but police now believe there were fewer than 50.

"Some of those people have been transported to shore, however a number believed to be on the island are currently unaccounted for," police said in a statement.
<snip>
White Island web cam, but does not show much
https://www.geonet.org.nz/volcano/ca...eislandwestrim
https://www.geonet.org.nz/volcano/ca...slandcraterrim
https://www.geonet.org.nz/volcano/ca...andcraterfloor
New camera's may be needed now

Last edited by Mwenenzi; Dec 8, 19 at 9:52 pm
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Old Dec 9, 19, 5:56 am
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Geologists and vulcanologists have been saying for years that tourist visits there were a disaster waiting to happen. When you poke the tiger enough times, you'll eventually get bitten.
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Old Dec 9, 19, 8:04 am
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
Geologists and vulcanologists have been saying for years that tourist visits there were a disaster waiting to happen. When you poke the tiger enough times, you'll eventually get bitten.
I'm no geology expert. On one hand, the alert level was raised to the highest level short of an eruption on 11/18 because of increasing volcanic activity on the island. One may reasonably question why tours were still allowed given the heightened alert. At the same time, other geologists say there was no indication of an imminent violent eruption, despite the heightened alert level.

I've visited White Island. It's one of the coolest places I've ever been, and I wouldn't hesitate to visit any more than I would hesitate to visit earthquake-prone California (which, incidentally, has killed 130 people and injured 14,000 in the last 30 years).
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Old Dec 9, 19, 10:46 am
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From 05:00 NZ time---> https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/118...east-five-dead
<snip>
The New Zealand Defence Force is attempting to deploy drones over White Island at first light on Tuesday, after a volcanic eruption left at least five people dead.

An unknown number of people remain missing, presumed dead this morning, after the volcano erupted while tour groups were visiting at 2.11pm on Monday.

Flights over the island had spotted no signs of life since the eruption happened, and police said late on Monday there were not thought to be any more survivors. However, emergency services had not yet been able to land on the island as it remained too dangerous.

Police and tour operators are today working urgently to confirm the exact number of dead, thought to be "in double digits", while 18 survivors were being treated for their injuries. <snip>

Update 05:50 NZ time https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/a...ectid=12292240

  • Five confirmed dead, eight missing, 31 in hospital after White Island volcano erupts twice
  • There were 47 people in total on the island - many were taken off the island in the face of extreme danger by heroic rescuers, says PM
  • Police say there are no further signs of life on the island, following flyovers late on Monday
  • Many of the victims are foreign tourists from Australia, the UK, China, Malaysia and the US from a visiting cruise ship, the Ovation of the Seas
<snip>
Update 10:00 NZ Time https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/a...ectid=12292240

  • Five confirmed dead, eight missing, 31 in hospital after White Island volcano erupts twice
  • There were 47 people in total on the island, 38 of them were from the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas
  • Thirty-four injured people and five bodies were taken off the island by heroic rescuers in the face of extreme danger, says PM
  • Police say there are no further signs of life on the island, following flyovers late on Monday
  • Many of the victims are tourists from Australia, the UK, China, Malaysia and the US
  • At least one of the dead is a local man - a popular tourist guide
  • The alert level on the island volcano was raised several weeks ago
  • Scientists say the volcano erupted instantaneously
<snip>
Edit
https://www.nzherald.co.nz/rotorua-d...ectid=12292380
White Island eruption: Chopper footage shows volcano devastation

At first it's only a plume of smoke and steam in the distance.

But as the Westpac Rescue Helicopter gets closer to Whakaari/White Island, the extent of the eruption becomes clearer.

The huge white cloud continues to billow from the crater, and a flyover shows sediment streaming hundreds of metres out into the ocean.

The chopper lands in a moonscape of thick ash, the chopper's blades whipping up clouds of dust.

Two crew members are left on the ground unloading rescue equipment; they duck their heads and try to keep the ash out of their faces as the chopper climbs back into the air.

The footage also shows a building that appears to be damaged and half-buried in ash.

In photos shot by the crew people are visible standing the beach, standing on the edge of a rock- and ash-strewn landscape.

An Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter Trust spokesman said the first crew had left for Whakaari/White Island at 2.40pm; the second at 2.45pm.
<snip>

Last edited by Mwenenzi; Dec 9, 19 at 2:42 pm
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Old Dec 10, 19, 3:31 am
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I wonder who is at fault here in this tragedy.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 3:44 am
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Originally Posted by Annalisa12 View Post
I wonder who is at fault here in this tragedy.
- the tourists (for not researching the destination sufficiently)
- the travel operators (for promoting these trips)
- the government (for allowing travel there in the first place)
- God/nature (for causing the eruption)

Take your pick!
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Old Dec 10, 19, 8:19 am
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i posted this in the Cruise forum.

"I am just back from the region. I researched this tour - not off a cruise line, but as a highly touted day tour excursion for all travelers. The White Island Tour company's website indicated that participants are given hard hats - presumably as emissions of rock and ash are possible. I decided this and several other subtle comments indicated that the our was beyond typical "adventure travel". I put it into the "you've got to be crazy" category and took a pass. Obviously not an over cautious assessment.
..,
I do feel for those involved, I don't mean to take a "blame the victim" approach. Perhaps a little more info might have stopped some from joining the tour. Travelers do ultimately have to take responsibility for their decisions, but tour companies also need to be forthcoming on full risks. (I say this as one who just a couple weeks ago in New Zealand decided that the guided hiking tour I was on was above my abilities and I happily and prudently bowed out. It was not possible to ascertain the technical demands from the promotional material.)"
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Old Dec 10, 19, 10:29 am
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There has to be someone to blame, then you can sue. I have seen early comments that the cruise line was at fault for not doing proper due diligence for the passengers taking one of their shore excursions.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 6:12 pm
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Originally Posted by javabytes View Post
I've visited White Island. It's one of the coolest places I've ever been, and I wouldn't hesitate to visit any more than I would hesitate to visit earthquake-prone California (which, incidentally, has killed 130 people and injured 14,000 in the last 30 years).
Sorry but what a ridiculous comparison. Even if all 130 earthquake deaths were California tourists, that would be 0.000002% of them in the last 30 years. If volcanic activity on White Island were that safe it would take 3000 years before 1 death occurred.

If the tours were adequately informed of the risk, then it's bad luck for the tourists. But don't act like the risk was the same as going to Disneyland.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 7:28 pm
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Originally Posted by gbs1112 View Post
There has to be someone to blame, then you can sue. I have seen early comments that the cruise line was at fault for not doing proper due diligence for the passengers taking one of their shore excursions.
How about the passengers doing some "due diligence"? It doesn't seem like too much of a stretch that if you are going to visit an active volcano it might erupt.

Even a quick look at the Wikipedia page suggests there is the risk of something going wrong.

Whakaari erupted continually from December 1975 until September 2000, marking the world's longest historic eruption episode, according to GeoNet, and also in 2012, 2016, and 2019.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 7:57 pm
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Originally Posted by gbs1112 View Post
There has to be someone to blame, then you can sue. I have seen early comments that the cruise line was at fault for not doing proper due diligence for the passengers taking one of their shore excursions.
yeah but this is New Zealand so no one will be suing anyone, regardless of fault
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Old Dec 10, 19, 10:02 pm
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Originally Posted by nancypants View Post
yeah but this is New Zealand so no one will be suing anyone, regardless of fault
Cruise line is US based and could be sued, by any nationality of passenger (read that about half the tourists were from the cruise ship).
NZ did announce a criminal investigation, and later corrected it to say it is not criminal yet, so maybe no suing. Saw a reporter from stuff.nz recount having taken the tour a few months ago and was not briefed on any safety procedures except for the helicopter but none for the island, did not know of the existence of the shelter (a cargo container fitted with emergency supplies, placed on the island a few years ago), or how to evacuate. Also claimed that the disclosure of risks did not mention volcanic eruption, only that there are geysers unexpectedly and they are hot.

Irony is that island is privately owned by the Buttle family trust, bought by Mr. Buttle in 1936 in order to preserve it without human contact (had big mutton bird population at the time, and prior history of mining for sulfur). After he died the trust eventually started tourist visits, making a large income from that over the years -- I guess he didn't specify the trust documents in sufficient detail about eliminating human presence on the island. The NZ gov't did offer to buy it in 1953 but it was kept private and brings in several million dollars a year in revenue.
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Old Dec 11, 19, 5:56 pm
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An interesting opinion piece. And one that I more or less agree with.

https://www.smh.com.au/world/oceania...11-p53j38.html
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Old Dec 11, 19, 10:05 pm
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I visited in 2017. The guides were asked questions about the risks of eruptions and how come visits are permitted. The reply was something along the lines of volcano activity is monitored and visits would be suspended if certain warning signs increased.

I don't remember exactly but there was also some sort of evacuation procedure mentioned - not sure how effective this would have been though...

Not sure how anyone who hasn't studied geology would be adequately informed to judge the risk.

From the linked SMH article (note, written by a Kiwi and aimed at Kiwis):

One report suggested that more emphasis was placed on the risk of seasickness than on the possibility of fatal burns and damage to internal organs from toxic gas and ash.
Does it not make more sense to inform visitors of a tangible risk that actually has a chance of affecting them such as seasickness (on my visit, the wake from a passing boat did make ours severely rocky for a few minutes) rather than a theoretical risk - that is to say if fatal burns and organ damage are actually likely to happen, the trip shouldn't be going ahead... which we now know with hindsight
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