New Zealand Volcanic Activity Hinders Recovery Efforts

This aerial photo shows White Island after its volcanic eruption in New Zealand.
Photo by George Novak/New Zealand Herald via AP, Newscred

Continued volcanic activity on New Zealand’s White Island is hindering recovery efforts, the New Zealand Police shared Wednesday evening (local time) in their latest update on the situation. The chance of a further eruption is significant, and at this time it is too dangerous to return to the island. 

“Police are absolutely committed to recovering bodies from the island,” said Deputy Commissioner John Tims. “The environment on the island has changed, with increased volcanic activity since early this morning.”

The death toll from Monday’s eruption rose to six as of Wednesday morning (local time) when a person who had been hospitalized passed away. Thirty patients are still undergoing treatment in six hospitals around New Zealand, 25 of whom are in critical condition. Wednesday evening, authorities confirmed that nine people were still missing. 

A tour group that included passengers from Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas were on the island when it erupted Monday, as reported by our sister publication, Travel Agent

“We grieve this tragic loss,” a spokesperson for the cruise line tells us. “We will continue to offer our support and services to families during this difficult time.”

The Ovation of the Seas departed Tauranga, New Zealand, Wednesday morning, and it is scheduled to arrive in Wellington at 8 a.m. Thursday (all times local). 

Travel Insurance

Allianz Global Assistance reports that it is currently assisting two American customers who were severely injured in the eruption, sending a medical team from Australia that arrived this evening at their hospital in New Zealand to assess their condition and assist in their care and recovery. Allianz also shared some background on how travel insurance and assistance could cover disasters like Monday’s eruption. 

“A volcanic eruption would be classified as ‘unforeseen and unexpected,’” the company said in a statement shared with us. “Emergency medical care and emergency medical transportation would be covered up to the plan’s policy limits.”

“Allianz Global Assistance expresses its deepest sympathy and solidarity to those affected by the New Zealand eruption,” said Daniel Durazo, director of communications and marketing. “Natural disasters like Monday’s eruption are unpredictable are heart-wrenching and our team is working around the clock to ensure the customers, and their families back home, are provided with the help they need.”

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