Deadly volcano eruption in New Zealand: Disaster Management Agency launched

A New Zealand judge on Wednesday acquitted the National Disaster Management Agency, which sued for failing to meet its safety obligations during the 2019 White Island volcano eruption, which killed 22 people.

Deadly volcano eruption in New Zealand: Disaster Management Agency launched

Nearly 50 people, the majority of them Australian tourists, were on the island when the volcano began its activity, releasing hot ash and toxic gases. The eruption killed 22 people and seriously injured 25 others. The National Disaster Management Agency was among ten legal persons and three natural persons prosecuted for violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act. WorkSafe, the body that monitors compliance with occupational safety standards, found the agency failed to adequately warn property owners and the public about the risk of an explosion. A judge in Auckland District Court dismissed the charge against the public body. According to Judge Evangelos Thomas, the agency cannot be held liable under New Zealand occupational health and safety legislation. According to the judge, “the hearing is not about whether the agency did its job properly — it may have done it, it may not have done it. It’s only about whether WorkSafe can use that particular law to prosecute it.” Eleven other parties have pleaded not guilty and will be tried next year. Last week, airline Inflite admitted to failing in its risk assessment. She was fined NZ$227,500 (€138,000). (Belga)

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