Tour companies forced to pay victims of the White Island volcano millions of dollars

A New Zealand court has awarded the victims of the White Island volcano accident, which claimed the lives of 22, NZ$10 million (£4.8 million; $6 million). When the volcano erupted in December 2019, killing about half of the group and seriously injuring the others, 47 tourists were inside. The companies who ran the trips and owned the island were found guilty of carelessness and safety violations last year. Many lives had been destroyed by their inability to give adequate checks, the court declared. The court stated that although the volcano had been exhibiting indicators of increased activity in the weeks preceding the eruption, operators had disregarded these.


The Auckland District Court on Friday ruled that Whakaari Management Limited, the island’s owner, must provide the victims NZ$4.57 million in damages. The Maori name for the island, Whakaari Management, granted permission for tour groups to access the volcano. The business that had brought the visitors to the island for a walking tour, White Island Tours, was also ordered by the court to make compensation totaling NZ$4.68 million. Damage payments were also mandated for Volcanic Air Safaris, Aerius Limited, and Kahu NZ Limited, three additional tour operators.


Australia accounted for seventeen of the dead visitors; the remaining tourists were from the US, New Zealand, and Germany. Visitors from Malaysia, China, and the UK had also been impacted that day. In his ruling on Friday, Judge Evangelos Thomas stated that the money awarded represented “no more than a token recognition” of the anguish endured by the victims. He realized that the loss of a loved one shattered families. Many of the survivors were still in excruciating pain after suffering horrific burns. “The therapy was frequently excruciating, demanding, and depressing. For many, it never ends,” he remarked.” A lot of people struggle with some form of deformity. The harm produced by the physical injury alone is not the only factor. The emotional fallout makes the pain worse. We accept that injury.

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