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Hearing begins into New Zealand volcano eruption that killed Ovation passengers

A Royal New Zealand Navy inflatable boat during the recovery operation on White Island
A hearing began Thursday into the deadly eruption on New Zealand’s White Island in December 2019 that killed passengers on a shore excursion from Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas.

The two-day hearing is taking place in Whakatane District Court.

Day trip tragedy

As reported here, 38 people from Ovation of the Seas were on a day trip to White Island, or Whakaari, 48 kilometres off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island, when the volcano erupted. Many died and others suffered horrific burns.

WorkSAFE New Zealand charges

New Zealand’s workplace safety watchdog alleges 13 parties — 10 organisations and three individuals — were negligent in their duty of care to visitors to the island.

They include Inflite Charters, ID Tours, Tauranga Tourism Services, White Island Tours, Kahu NZ, Volcanic Air Safaris and Aerius.

The three people are the legal owners of the island — James, Peter and Andrew Buttle — as well as their ownership company Whakaari Management.

Government agencies National Emergency Management Agency and GNS Science also face charges.  

Each organisation faces a maximum fine of $NZ1.5m and individuals $NZ300,000.

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