White Island

Tragedy on New Zealand’s White Island, which erupted today at 2:11 pm NZDT while about 50 tourists were visiting. About half of them were rescued by boats from offshore. The rest are still missing.

Below are webcam pictures taken just before the sudden explosive eruption (source: Independent):

In the top image, a line of people can just be discerned standing on the rim of the active crater. Ten minutes later they have left the rim, and have moved away along a path. There seem to have been 10 – 15 people in the group.

The webcam seems to have been located at the eastern end of the island, facing west.

It looks as if visitors landed on the east end of the island, and walked about a kilometre across what was actually the floor of the crater to the western end, which was still active. Given an average walking speed of 5 km/hr, it would have only taken about 10 minutes to walk this distance.

Since five people are already known to have died, it seems highly unlikely that the group of visitors shown in the webcam will have survived. Unfortunately, they were probably all killed instantly. And will likely never be found.

This seems to be the belief of NZ police:

Just after midnight, officers said in a statement that after reconnaissance flights over the island, “no signs of life had been seen at any point”.

“Police believe that anyone who could have been taken from the island alive was rescued at the time of the evacuation,” a statement said.

“Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island.”

What’s astonishing is the speed at which news of this sort now propagates around the world. There are already several videos showing the eruption, which happened less than 12 hours ago. And there are already several firsthand accounts from the scene. No doubt there will be many more.

We are all reporters now.

About Frank Davis

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5 Responses to White Island

  1. smokingscot says:

    Yes lots of people have a device that’ll produce a video – and now the platforms to upload to a world audience. And there’s naff all the authorities can do to stop them.

    LiveLeak’s my favourite – I check in several times a day. Not brilliant on the volcano, just a video of a news report, but very good on the UPS stop and neutralise, even if two were innocents.

    https://www.liveleak.com

    A big middle finger to YouTube, owned by the predatory Google.

  2. RdM says:

    What’s astonishing is the speed at which news of this sort now propagates around the world. There are already several videos showing the eruption, which happened less than 12 hours ago. And there are already several firsthand accounts from the scene. No doubt there will be many more.

    This tweet, with videos 20 mins after the eruption, and earlier, at the crater 30(?) mins earlier.

    Take a little getting used to;- videos may load automatically – but can pause – and also make full-screen. In 3rd or 4th, in first second or so, you can see the helicopter with busted rotors.
    Use the pause and grab the scroll blob with the mouse to zero in on where to look.

    We are all reporters now.

    Well, there are immediate witnesses, who will report & share as soon as they can or wish to, – ph or internet to local known news media outfits, and then or also their social media feeds out etc.

    Then the news media picks up shares and sends ‘reporters’ out, whether onsite or to report.

    Collate, update & etc. Soon the Police & PM are involved as well, and reported on statements.
    Then witness and rescue folk interviews, some very directly connected, those who rescued.

    Like this chap:

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/405215/whakaari-white-island-rescues-pilots-saved-the-day-observer

    Thanks & best regards! ;-)

  3. RdM says:

    Further with a closer pic of the damaged helicopter, from RNZ.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/405185/whakaari-white-island-rescue-nothing-can-really-prepare-you-for-an-eruption-like-this

    And comments (some idiots?) even in a local centrist right even if not libertarian leaning blog,

    https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2019/12/white_island.html

    Aftermath unfolding in the next few days.

    I heard one witness mention lightning withing the cloud, “charged particles”.

    Lightning in eruption outburst clouds is an interesting phenomenon.
    And around earthquakes.

    The sheer electromagnetic & etc. physics of it all.
    Geology, atmosphere, space.

    Sense of wonder.

    Then back to literature …

  4. RdM says:

    Interview with Volcanic Air helicopter pilot Tim Barrow, a good keen bloke:

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2018726480/whakaari-white-island-eruption-rescue-pilot-keen-to-go-back

    And an interview re skin graft supplies from Australia, as a start, about 1m sq?
    https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2018726476/australian-skin-donated-to-help-white-island-burns-victims

    Quite educational, how skin grafts work, and a calm interviewee.

    Stored cold in liquid nitrogen. More to come via US?

    And much more needed. From elsewhere,

    “At a press conference a short time ago, Counties Manukau DHB chief medical officer Dr Peter Watson outlined the need for dressings and temporary skin grafts.

    An additional order has been placed with American skin banks to cope with the demands on New Zealand’s burn units.

    Twenty-two patients remained on airway support, Dr Watson said.

    “We anticipate we will require an additional 1.2 million square centimetres of skin for the ongoing needs of the patient.”

    That equates to 120 square metres of skin.

    There are 29 patients injured in the Whakaari/White Island eruption still receiving care in hospitals around the country.”

    Obviously if you have 50% + skin burned, you can’t be flayed for the rest to graft!
    The burned are spoken of as having > 30% skin area burned.

    More skin arriving from the US today or so. People will take months to recover.

    They would have inhaled really toxic fumes and ash as well.

    Makes a cigarette look safe in comparison.

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