New Zealand volcano – Tour operators could face manslaughter charges as White Island cops demand answers


TOUR operators who sent holidaymakers into a volcano that then erupted killing six could face manslaughter charges as cops launched a probe.

Six people died and a further 30 have been hospitalised in the horrific blast – as eight still remain missing.

 Six people have been confirmed dead from the eruption

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Six people have been confirmed dead from the eruptionCredit: EPA
 Cops who were first on the scene were praised by Jacinda Ardern

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Cops who were first on the scene were praised by Jacinda ArdernCredit: AFP or licensors

Rescuers yesterday combed through the ash and smoke but said they could find “no signs of life.”

The blast came after New Zealand’s GeoNet seismic monitoring agency had raised the volcano’s alert level on November 18 from one to two on a scale where five represents a major eruption.

Despite the lower number on the scale, the blast – classed as “moderate” – was still deadly.

UNCERTAIN INVESTIGATION

Cops are now demanding answers as it is revealed visitors to the island had been asked to sign a waiver, confirming the volcano could erupt at any time.

Police in the country confirmed they had launched an investigation into the incident but later said it was too early to say whether it was a criminal probe.

And according to one legal expert who spoke to the New Zealand Herald, tour company operators involved could face manslaughter charges “if found criminally liable for failing to protect customers”.

The explosion was described as “unfortunate but not completely unexpected” by experts, Stuff reports, with customers asked to sign a waiver confirming the unstable nature of the volcano.

One man, who visited the lava-spewing mountain at Easter, said the waiver “made it clear it was an unpredictable and active volcano”.

The bottom line is it’s not safe.”

Stuart NashPolice Minister

But the waiver may not stand up legally, according to the publication – which could mean the tour companies failed to protect their customers.

Internal Affairs Minister and New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin suggested there could be an inquiry into the tragic White Island incident yesterday afternoon, Newshub reports.

Cops stressed they had done everything they could in their rescue efforts.

Police Minister, Stuart Nash said: “[Officers] had no idea what they were dealing with and what they’re doing is waiting for the right scientific and technical information before they can even think about going onto the island.”

He also praised the tour operators who stepped in to help with the rescue mission, adding: “I take my hat off to them – true heroes.”

But Nash added: “The bottom line is it’s not safe.

“All I would say is that at this point, the police’s main role is coordination and recovery, and then victim identification.”

The rescuers removed five bodies from the island yesterday after the blast around 2 pm.

Cops today confirmed a further sixth person had died, as fears mounted for those in hospital.

It was reported New Zealnds’ burns units were stretched to their limits as they struggled to cope with the victims, 27 of whom had horrific burns to over 70 per cent of their bodies.

Tragically, many of the injured are not expected to survive.

 Ash-covered patients could be seen being loaded into emergency vehicles

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Ash-covered patients could be seen being loaded into emergency vehiclesCredit: AP:Associated Press
 Paramedics tend to an injured person evacuated from the island

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Paramedics tend to an injured person evacuated from the islandCredit: AP:Associated Press
 A group watch the eruption from a boat

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A group watch the eruption from a boatCredit: AFP
 Medics load the injured into waiting ambulances back on the mainland

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Medics load the injured into waiting ambulances back on the mainlandCredit: Reuters

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 Jake Milbank, pictured, was injured in the eruption

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Jake Milbank, pictured, was injured in the eruption
 Karla Mathews and Richard Elzer, pictured, are missing

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Karla Mathews and Richard Elzer, pictured, are missing
 Pictured here, Australian Gavin Dallow was travelling with partneer, Lisa Hosking and her 15-year-old daughter, Zoe - the family are still missing

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Pictured here, Australian Gavin Dallow was travelling with partneer, Lisa Hosking and her 15-year-old daughter, Zoe – the family are still missing
 Lisa and Zoe Hosking, missing

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Lisa and Zoe Hosking, missing
 Julie (right) and Jessica Richards, missing

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Julie (right) and Jessica Richards, missing
 Jesse Langford, 19 , missing

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Jesse Langford, 19 , missingCredit: Facebook
 Newleyweds, 23-year-old James Whitehouse, 23, and Madeline Whitehouse 24 are also missing

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Newleyweds, 23-year-old James Whitehouse, 23, and Madeline Whitehouse 24 are also missingCredit: Facebook
 Jason Griffiths, 33, is among the missing

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Jason Griffiths, 33, is among the missingCredit: Facebook
 17-year-old Winona Langford is also missing

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17-year-old Winona Langford is also missingCredit: Facebook
 Amy Miall, 30, and partner Mathew Thomas, 31, are still unaccounted for

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Amy Miall, 30, and partner Mathew Thomas, 31, are still unaccounted forCredit: Facebook
 Anthony and Kristine Langford are still missing, along with their two teenage children

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Anthony and Kristine Langford are still missing, along with their two teenage childrenCredit: Facebook
 Tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman was the first fatality to be named

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Tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman was the first fatality to be namedCredit: Facebook
 A helicopter is seen on the island covered in ash

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A helicopter is seen on the island covered in ashCredit: Michael Schade/ Magnus News
 Tour operators are seen evacuating people around 12 minutes after the eruption

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Tour operators are seen evacuating people around 12 minutes after the eruptionCredit: Reuters
 A boat was able to reach the shore and evacuate people

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A boat was able to reach the shore and evacuate peopleCredit: AFP
 A tour group visits White Island in July of this year

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A tour group visits White Island in July of this yearCredit: Getty – Contributor
 The eruption seen from a helicopter

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The eruption seen from a helicopterCredit: Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust/ Magnus News
 A view of the eruption from New Zealand's North Island

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A view of the eruption from New Zealand’s North IslandCredit: Reuters
Terrifying moment boat load of tourists flee in panic as New Zealand volcano erupts killing at least five





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