Volcano Erupts in New Zealand


Associated Press

A volcano on White Island in New Zealand erupted December 9.

  A volcano on New Zealand’s White Island erupted December 9. At the time of the eruption, there were 24 Austrailians, nine Americans, five New Zealanders, four Germans, two Chinese, two Britons, and one Malaysian were on the island. The eruption killed 18 people, ten are in critical condition, and over 20 of the survivors have burns.  

  The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Arden, said in a speech to parliament “To those who have lost or are missing family and friends, we share in your unfathomable grief at this moment in time and in your sorrow …Our duty …is to return loved ones.”

  A couple from Virginia, Lauren and Matt Urey, were on the Royal Caribbean Cruise: Ovation of the Seas for their honeymoon. The Ureys are among those hospitalized for severe injuries. They were touring the Volcano when it erupted. A statement by Royal Caribbean given to USA Today says, “We’re making sure they are taken care of in terms of medical help, counseling, accommodations and transport…Our hearts go out to them, and we want to be as supportive as we can.”

  At a news conference on Wednesday, the Police Deputy Commissioner said, “The reality is we have to wait for Mother Nature to produce those bodies, and it may and it may not. And the reality is, we’ll be here if it does…We are literally in the hands of the sea.”

  There are still questions to whether tourists should have even been on the island. Weeks before the eruption, GeoNet–New Zealand’s volcano monitoring system–raised the threat level for White Island to level two. According to the GeoNet website, a level two on the Volcanic Alert Levels is “Moderate to heightened volcanic unrest,”  which is when “hazards occur on and near the volcano, and may include steam eruptions, volcanic gases, earthquakes, landslides, uplift, subsidence, changes to hot springs, and/or lahars (mudflows).” 

  WorkSafe is New Zealand’s regulator of health and safety. In a statement, WorkSafe said “WorkSafe will be investigating and considering all of the relevant work health and safety issues surrounding this tragic event.”

  It will be interesting to see if things begin to change in the volcano tourism industry after the tragic event in New Zealand. 

The volcano on White Island when it erupted on Monday, 9

Photo Courtesy: Lillani Hopkins/Associated Press