- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is right to question why visitors were allowed on White Island after warnings were issued that volcano could erupt
Tourists seek new experiences. In New Zealand that includes spectacular scenery shaped and reshaped by relatively recent volcanic upheavals, geothermal parks and active volcanoes themselves.
The country chosen as the location for the film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, including the volcano it immortalised, is a South Pacific magnet for adventure tourism. But adventure tourism is not without risks, as we have been reminded by the toll of the dead, missing and critically ill survivors after the White Island eruption disaster.
Our thoughts and prayers must be with the families mourning or waiting for news of victims. But people are asking why tourists were still allowed to visit the island after a recent destructive blast when it was deserted, and seismic monitoring experts had raised the eruption alert level just three weeks before the volcano blew.
Many on the island at the time belonged to a cruise-ship tour group who signed up for the adventure trip to the volcano island about 50km off the coast in the Bay of Plenty.
When the volcano blew on Monday afternoon, GNS Science, a geological science research organisation, had raised the island's volcanic alert level and warned that the unrest could include eruptions of steam, gas, mud and rocks "with little or no warning" -" exactly what happened.
Defending the warning system, GNS vulcanologist Brad Scott said that while steam-driven eruptions could happen at any warning level and scientists could not give a time window, an alert system that prompted people to think about the risk was important.
Critics have also asked why tours were allowed after a blast in 2016 that carved out a new crater, caused landslides and buried tourist trails. It may be hindsight, but how many tourists would still have wanted to go there this week had they known all those details?
White Island: why were tourists allowed to visit New Zealand volcano?
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has rightly told the New Zealand parliament that these questions must be asked, and answered.
Nothing less will do for the victims and their families, or for a country with a tragic volcanic history including, in 1886, the eruption of Mount Tarawera, not that far from White Island, which buried settlements and villages in lava and ash and killed 120 people.
Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.查看原始文章