New Zealand will prosecute 13 parties in connection with the deadly volcanic eruption on White Island last year. Three individuals and ten organizations would have taken too many risks.
At the time the volcano erupted, there were 47 people on the island. 22 people were killed by heat, flying debris and deadly gases. Some of the injured have still not fully recovered from severe burns.
The victims, said a spokesman for the Labor Inspectorate handling the case, “should have expected it to be safe to go to the island, as everyone involved had done everything to ensure their health and safety. But was it?”
An investigation was launched after the eruption because increased volcanic activity had already been reported on the island in advance. Despite this, tourists were still brought to White Island to climb the crater.
These images from December 10, 2019, a day after the eruption, clearly show how devastating the natural disaster was:
Who exactly was charged is kept secret until the suspects are brought to trial. It is already clear that two government agencies must defend themselves, the geological institute GNS and the crisis agency NEMA.
Two travel companies also announced that they had been charged, a helicopter company and a travel agency. The organizations can be fined almost a million euros, for individuals that can be as high as 175,000 euros.
The eruption happened exactly one year ago on December 9. A memorial ceremony is then held on the island. Due to the corona crisis, it will be modest in size.