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Thirteen charged over Whakaari White Island tragedy

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of the Whakaari, also known as White Island volcano, in New Zealand, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva/File Photo

Thirteen charged over Whakaari White Island tragedy

New Zealand's workplace regulator has filed charges against 13 parties following an investigation into a volcanic eruption on Whakaari White Island in 2019 which killed 22 people.

Thirteen charged over Whakaari White Island tragedy

A surprise eruption on the island on 9 December last year, killed 22 people and injured dozens.

Majority of them were tourists who were part of a cruise ship that was travelling around New Zealand and were from countries like Australia, the United States and Malaysia. There were 47 people on the island when the volcano erupted.

Worksafe, New Zealand’s primary regulator for workplace-related incidents, has charged 10 parties under the Health and Safety at Work Act which has a maximum fine of $NZ1.5 million.

Three individuals have been charged as directors or individuals who were required to exercise due diligence to ensure the company meets its health and safety obligations. These charges each carry a maximum fine of $300,000.

WorkSafe is not naming those charged as they may seek suppression orders in their first appearance in court on 15 December.

The coroner is conducting a separate inquiry into the incident. A coronial investigation is automatically triggered in the event of a sudden, violent or unnatural death.

At the time of the eruption questions were raised why people were allowed on the island, a popular destination for day-trippers, given there was reportedly a heightened risk of an eruption.

FILE PHOTO: People look at a memorial at the harbour in Whakatane, following the White Island volcano eruption in New Zealand, December 11, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva/File Photo


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