Active

Call me crazy but maybe an active volcano is not an ideal tourist destination? Possibly?

Because

There are 5 dead and 8 missing.

The survivors were taken off the uninhabited island by boat or by helicopter. Emergency services have so far been unable to search the area because of dangerous conditions, with plumes of smoke and ash continuing to rise above the volcano on Tuesday.

Tourists had been seen walking inside the crater of White Island volcano moments before it erupted.

White Island, also called Whakaari, is the country’s most active volcano. Despite that, the privately owned island is a tourist destination with frequent day tours and scenic flights available.

Maybe that’s not actually such a brilliant idea? An active volcano?

Prime Minister Ardern paid tribute to helicopter crews who had flown to the island on Monday to bring people out despite the dangers.

“I want to acknowledge the courageous decision made by first responders and those pilots who in their immediate rescue efforts made an incredibly brave decision under extraordinarily dangerous circumstances in an attempt to get people out,” she said.

And maybe let’s not put them in danger that way any more.

There are few details about those caught in the eruption. Some who had gone to the island were passengers from the Ovation of the Seas, a cruise ship owned by Royal Caribbean.

Small world thing here: I’m acquainted with that ship, because in the summer it does Seattle to Alaska cruises and it ties up at a pier at the bottom of the hill I live at the top of which. I can’t see it from here but I can hear it, and if I go outside and walk a couple of minutes to the view wall I can see it just fine, which is how I know its name.

There was a group of people inside the crater just before the blast, so those will be the 8 missing.

The island, also known as Whakaari, is privately owned and is typically visited by thousands of tourists every year, despite the fact that it has been erupting in some form since 2011.

Geological hazard monitors GeoNet pass on information about the volcano’s activity to tour operators and the police, but tourists make their own decisions about whether to visit.

Visitors are supplied with hard hats and gas masks to protect against sulphurous steam and must have suitable footwear to make the tour, according to New Zealand website Stuff.

The owners of Whakatane-based company White Island Tours are the official guardians of the island, which was declared a private scenic reserve in 1952, and they grant access through designated tour operators.

According to the New Zealand Herald, White Island Tours warned on its website that visitors “should be aware that there is always a risk of eruptive activity regardless of the alert level”, while stating it followed a “comprehensive safety plan which determines” its activities on the island “at the various levels”.

Including letting people go inside the crater?

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