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  #2372935 12-Dec-2019 08:41
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This interview with a GNS volcanologist on RNZ yesterday is useful in explaining the risk levels, monitoring etc:

 

GNS Volcanologist Brad Scott has been monitoring and visiting White Island for around 40 years. He talks to Kathryn Ryan


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  #2372981 12-Dec-2019 08:57
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frednz:

 

In light of the recent major eruption, the question is, what level of "escalating activity" will be sufficient in future to make the authorities stop people walking on the island. The alert level was a "2" at the time of the recent eruption, but this obviously wasn't regarded as serious because it's been at a "2" on many other occasions without an eruption actually taking place.

 

So, although the "experts" predicted "escalating activity" it seems that nobody took any notice of this. So, in future, will an alert level of anything above "0" be regarded as sufficient to ban visits?

 

 

That's a good question. It could be that the answer to that question is different now due to changes inside the crater caused by the eruption too. It's possible the reliance on the alert system without considering the lack of shelter or remoteness leads to a new understand of the risks the volcano presents - whether that means a higher risk rating as a baseline or whether they are more conservative with how the tour groups use the current advisories is a discussion for people who know more about that sort of thing than I do. 


 
 
 
 


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  #2373024 12-Dec-2019 09:05
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frednz:

 

In light of the recent major eruption, the question is, what level of "escalating activity" will be sufficient in future to make the authorities stop people walking on the island. The alert level was a "2" at the time of the recent eruption, but this obviously wasn't regarded as serious because it's been at a "2" on many other occasions without an eruption actually taking place.

 

So, although the "experts" predicted "escalating activity" it seems that nobody took any notice of this. So, in future, will an alert level of anything above "0" be regarded as sufficient to ban visits?

 

 

I agree. It hasn't been 2 that often. 1 is simmering. 2 is escalated activity, could mean anything, but is ignored by tour operators as irrelevant. Passengers unaware, as they get told, its a volcano there is a risk, as BAU.

 

As you say, nobody took any notice of this.Then I read  a list of acitve, inactive, extinct volcanos in NZ as a risk assessment example? 


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  #2373027 12-Dec-2019 09:09
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geoffwnz:

So it's possible that they could make a successful recovery mission, but what it they don't?  What if there is another eruption of the same scale or bigger than the one the other day, while they are on the island?  Who has the liability then?  Who gets crucified in the media and courts for "allowing them to go get themselves killed"?


Wanting an open casket is not sufficient justification for putting people and equipment in harms way.


It's typical hero complex.


I know that I will never set foot into any helicopter piloted by those guys because I have no faith in their risk assessment capabilities.  I would not trust them with my life.



Except that these pilots went onto the volcano to retrieve about 12 people (3 died on route to mainland) who would have not been rescued otherwise.

When they heard the volcano erupted they were told there was no search and rescue. So they went to the volcano themselves and looked for survivors. They took all the ones alive and left the ones who have perished, and flew them to mainland whether those who survived the trip were then taken to hospital albeit who are still in critical condition.




Involuntary autocorrect in operation on mobile device. Apologies in advance.


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  #2373028 12-Dec-2019 09:10
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GV27:

 

frednz:

 

In light of the recent major eruption, the question is, what level of "escalating activity" will be sufficient in future to make the authorities stop people walking on the island. The alert level was a "2" at the time of the recent eruption, but this obviously wasn't regarded as serious because it's been at a "2" on many other occasions without an eruption actually taking place.

 

So, although the "experts" predicted "escalating activity" it seems that nobody took any notice of this. So, in future, will an alert level of anything above "0" be regarded as sufficient to ban visits?

 

 

That's a good question. It could be that the answer to that question is different now due to changes inside the crater caused by the eruption too. It's possible the reliance on the alert system without considering the lack of shelter or remoteness leads to a new understand of the risks the volcano presents - whether that means a higher risk rating as a baseline or whether they are more conservative with how the tour groups use the current advisories is a discussion for people who know more about that sort of thing than I do. 

 

 

IMHO nothing has changed at all. 30 years of visits, nothing has changed. Eventually, the odds of regular but unpredictable eruptions caught people. NOW, its looked at differently. The reality is, the risks that killed these people has been flaunted for 30 years. But as someone said early on, its a business. Alert 2 which is higher and non normal activity should shut visits down for the duration.


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  #2373030 12-Dec-2019 09:11
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In the interview with the GNS staff member I linked to above he explains that the levels are more about explaining the activity occurring rather than providing any analysis of risk; 'level two' covers a relatively wide range - from 'heightened' activity right through to just short of an eruption (the marker for level 3); this is reinforced in this quote from a Newsroom article:

 

University of Canterbury associate professor Thomas Wilson described the alert system as a way for volcanologists to describe what’s going on with a volcano. 

 

“It’s a crude analogy to a weather forecast. They’re not trying to forecast into the future, they’re trying to explain what’s happening with the volcano.”

 

Level zero is the level a dormant volcano would have. Level one, means some activity is occurring.

 

“When you get to level two, that’s when things change a bit.”

 

This is when there’s heightened unrest with a heightened risk of eruption.

 

“Anything above two is when there’s an eruption going on.”

 

https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2019/12/10/942815/a-volcanic-level-two-sense-of-security


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  #2373031 12-Dec-2019 09:13
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I am torn on this. It's normal for people to want accountability when people die tragically like this, however, how much accountability does the person signing the waiver need to accept? The Tour operators will become the target/scapegoats here certainly. Bottom line it's an active volcano and tour operators have operated under the same set of conditions for many years (17,000 people last year were there apparently).

 

Given it can explode on a moment's notice with apparently no warning, then surely you either ban tours full stop or you don't hold people to account if things go wrong.

 

 


 
 
 
 


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  #2373032 12-Dec-2019 09:13
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Anyway, the legal mess that this leaves might be crazy. Suddenly they are investigating the tour company, the cruise company might be asked , and even the island owners have liability.

But the govt agency monitoring, well they have done nothing wrong it seems.

What do people think? Going on an active volcano is risk free cos it won't erupt/nobody told us it would erupt? Or maybe there needed to be a fire exit to be pointed out to tourists when it erupts?




Involuntary autocorrect in operation on mobile device. Apologies in advance.


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  #2373037 12-Dec-2019 09:17
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Batman:
geoffwnz:

 

So it's possible that they could make a successful recovery mission, but what it they don't?  What if there is another eruption of the same scale or bigger than the one the other day, while they are on the island?  Who has the liability then?  Who gets crucified in the media and courts for "allowing them to go get themselves killed"?

 

Wanting an open casket is not sufficient justification for putting people and equipment in harms way.

 

It's typical hero complex.

 

I know that I will never set foot into any helicopter piloted by those guys because I have no faith in their risk assessment capabilities.  I would not trust them with my life.

 



Except that these pilots went onto the volcano to retrieve about 12 people (3 died on route to mainland) who would have not been rescued otherwise.

When they heard the volcano erupted they were told there was no search and rescue. So they went to the volcano themselves and looked for survivors. They took all the ones alive and left the ones who have perished, and flew them to mainland whether those who survived the trip were then taken to hospital albeit who are still in critical condition.

 

Not disputing what they did in the initial response.

 

As has been previously noted, 90+% of all initial rescues are done by "bystanders" rather than qualified rescue personnel.

 

How they are conducting themselves subsequently is not in anyones best interests though.





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  #2373040 12-Dec-2019 09:21
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Suicide is illegal. On the other hand Euthanasia bill is passed. What's wrong with wanting to retrieve one's brother? Or cave diving? Free diving... Etc




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  #2373042 12-Dec-2019 09:24
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Batman: Suicide is illegal. On the other hand Euthanasia bill is passed. What's wrong with wanting to retrieve one's brother?

 

Nothing wrong with WANTING to do it, it's a whole other matter of when it gets done SAFELY.

 

Often grief causes people to process illogically, and being pragmatic about it, what good would it do to recover his body and end up with a second funeral to attend. Even if he's willing to risk that himself, there are other considerations to be made.

 

Look how litigious this has all become already.

 

 

 

If that was my Son, Daughter or sister on the Island, I am not sure how I'd react, but I'd hope someone unemotionally attached to the situation would be making the decisions in that situation.

 

No-one is disputing this is a tragedy, but it could get much worse if rescuers, or recovery specialists are injured or killed.




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  #2373044 12-Dec-2019 09:29
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tdgeek:

 

IMHO nothing has changed at all. 30 years of visits, nothing has changed. 

 

 

Did they used to take such large tours with ~50 people on the island at one time?

 

 


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  #2373048 12-Dec-2019 09:31
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This is just getting worse and worse. a further two people have died of their injuries. I think there were 25 people listed in critical condition on Wednesday. So that's now three of the rescued dead, 23 more in critical condition and a total of eight confirmed dead and eight missing presumed dead.

 

Too bad about the lost tourism revenue, I don't think anyone should be allowed to walk around that island again.


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  #2373059 12-Dec-2019 09:56
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Survival with 50 percent burns is pretty low. Most of these in hospital have over 80 percent.




Involuntary autocorrect in operation on mobile device. Apologies in advance.


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  #2373060 12-Dec-2019 09:59
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networkn:

 

I am torn on this. It's normal for people to want accountability when people die tragically like this, however, how much accountability does the person signing the waiver need to accept? The Tour operators will become the target/scapegoats here certainly. Bottom line it's an active volcano and tour operators have operated under the same set of conditions for many years (17,000 people last year were there apparently).

 

Given it can explode on a moment's notice with apparently no warning, then surely you either ban tours full stop or you don't hold people to account if things go wrong.

 

 

 

 

From what Ive seen, they all get told its a volcano, there is a risk. Thats it. Alert 2, more activity, heightened risk of an eruption, they didn't get told that. As the operators take alert 2 as fine. IMHO, that's the problem, extra activity, heightened risk of an eruption. Those at risk on ski fields have a FAR greater chance of avoidance if one erupted, if you are 3 metres from the crater, you have no hope. I can see that Alert 2 can keep ski fields open, but banned from the summit (as occurs) but WI is so much different, you are literally IN the volcano when you are 3 metres from crater lake

 

If I put myself in that position, well obviously there are safety concerns but obviously its been deemed as ok. Factor that by 3 in todays PC/OSH society.


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