Ten companies and three people have been charged with failing to meet their safety obligations during the 2019 eruption of New Zealand’s White Island volcano that killed 22 people, WorkSafe announced Monday (December 1), an agency that ensures compliance with occupational safety standards.
This agency examined the reasons why 47 people, mostly Australian tourists, were on the volcanic island on December 9, 2019 when the eruption occurred. The alert level for the volcano was raised a few weeks ago and WorkSafe Director Phil Parks said an investigation determined the charges were justified. “This extremely tragic event was unexpected, but that does not mean that it was unpredictable.”, he told reporters. “Victims, whether staff or visitors, were all hoping to go to the island knowing that the responsible structures had done what was necessary to monitor their health and safety.”, Ceylon Phil Parks.
The case will be heard on December 15 by the court.
However, the WorkSafe manager declined to reveal the names of the individuals and entities involved. These will be tourism professionals as well as public services responsible for supervising this type of excursion on this volcanic island located in the north of New Zealand. According to Phil Parks, sued companies are liable to fines of up to NZ$1.5 million (880,000 euros) and 176,000 euros to individuals. He said it was the largest and most complex investigation his agency had ever conducted.
Another investigation led by a forensic doctor is underway to determine whether criminal action should be taken. However, its conclusions will not be known until the Worksafe-managed cases are completed. “The forensic pathologist’s investigation into the people who died during the eruption of the White Island volcano will remain pending for the duration of legal proceedings initiated by other services.”A spokesperson for the medical examiner said.
see also – Volcanic eruption in New Zealand: “It was like Chernobyl” (10/12/2019)