n Occupational Health Southern Africa - New Zealand Whakaari volcano eruption and occupational hygiene responses

Volume 26 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1024-6274
  • E-ISSN: 2226-6097


A unique adventure tourism experience offered in New Zealand was a visit to an active volcanic island–Whakaari (White Island). Visitors could walk on the uninhabited live volcano, located a short boat ride from the coast of New Zealand. On 9 December 2019, about 100 people were on or near the island when it erupted without warning. Steam, rock and ash shot 3.6 km into the air. Sadly, 20 people died and 25 are still in hospital, some in critical condition. The victims suffered severe burns from super-heated geothermal fluids and highly corrosive ash. Skin banks from around the world have contributed millions of square centimetres of skin for the multiple skin grafts needed for the survivors, many of whom will require months of surgery and rehabilitation.

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