On the 9th of December 2019, the volcano on White Island, New Zealand, erupted with two explosions in quick succession. This is an ongoing recovery mission and information written here could change over the coming days.
There were approximately 47 people on the island at the time of the eruption, with 23 of them rescued initially. Currently, at six people are confirmed to be dead, and eight people remain unaccounted for. 31 people are being treated in hospital, and New Zealand police have officially launched an investigation into the tragedy on behalf of the coroner.
In a time like this, I think of the individuals impacted and the families affected by this disaster. Not only are the injuries horrific, but the shock of such a sudden event will be challenging to overcome. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families, and our hope is that those still alive can make a full recovery.
The work of emergency agencies has been highly commendable. Official rescue operations were launched immediately by St John Ambulance, Whakatane hospital and New Zealand Police. However, efforts were hampered by the treacherous conditions, which prevented them from setting foot on the island itself. In a situation which many considered unlikely, the efficient work of rescue officials is a tremendous effort, which is continuing as I speak. These individuals have risked their own lives to help others, leaving the comfort of the mainland to enter the unknown territory of an active volcano. We thank and pray for all those assisting in trying to save the lives of others.
With any dangerous event, which is considered to be avoidable, an investigation is necessary. It is vital to learn from what happened, to ensure that a similar event can never happen again. While many begin to debate the danger of adventure tourism, I will leave my thoughts for another day. As for now, our only priority should be the safety and wellbeing of every person involved in this tragic circumstance.