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How the cruise of a lifetime turned into a deadly nightmare | FOUR CORNERS

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Four Corners
Source: ABC

FOUR CORNERS: TRAPPED IN THE VOLCANO

Trapped in the volcano: How the cruise of a lifetime turned into a deadly nightmare.

“Oh my god there are people there.”  Tourist

It was the height of the summer cruise season and for many on board the Ovation of the Seas it was the trip of a lifetime.   The luxury cruise to New Zealand promised great entertainment and the opportunity to get up close to the renowned natural beauty of the Land of the Long White Cloud.

“They were really looking forward to it…he sent a picture of them as they were going through Sydney Heads and said, “Goodbye Australia, Hello New Zealand!” Victim’s father

But on the afternoon of December 9 the dream holiday turned into a deadly nightmare when a group of cruise ship passengers and other day trippers became trapped in the middle of a volcanic eruption.

“That’s something that I never thought I’d ever see, and something I hope I never have to see again.”  Tourist

47 people were in the famous White Island volcano crater when it erupted. 21 were killed, 19 of them were from the Ovation of the Seas.

“I’m quite sure that if there was a danger, he wouldn’t have gone.”  Father

On Monday Four Corners investigates what the tourists were told, and what they understood about the dangers of visiting New Zealand’s most active volcano.

“They were told in the brochure that all they needed to do if they were attending this tour was to wear enclosed shoes.”   Lawyer

The program examines whether more could have been done to prevent the tragedy, that has left so many dead and others with lifelong traumatic injuries.

“My personal point of view is they should have stopped tourist activities, particularly in terms of landing on the island.”  Volcanologist

In videos captured on smart phones, the vision reveals the raw power of the eruption and its aftermath.

“I could see, just this enormous cloud of… black and bright white steam and ash.  At that point there was definitely a shift of, I guess, shock and horror.”  Day tripper

It is also the story of the incredible heroism and compassion shown by those on the scene. In heart stopping interviews with fellow tourists and guides, an extraordinary picture emerges of how ordinary people did everything in their power to rescue and comfort the injured.

“She asked me not to leave her, and I promised I wouldn’t, and I wasn’t going to break that promise. That’s where I stayed.”   Day tripper

For the families grieving their loved ones, they feel a debt of gratitude to those who didn’t hesitate to help.

“The fact that they did that saved lives.   Absolute bloody heroes, and I hope for their sake that what they’ve seen doesn’t haunt them for a long, long time.” Relative

It is replayed on Tuesday 28th April at 1.00pm and Wednesday 29th at 11.20pm. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.10pm AEST, ABC iView and at abc.net.au/4corners.

Four Corners – Trapped in the Volcano: Monday 27th April at 8.30pm on ABC and iview

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