The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

White Island: Company found guilty over New Zealand volcano disaster

A New Zealand tour company has been found guilty of not “minimising risk” to 22 people who died in the 2019 White Island volcano disaster. Judge Evangelos Thomas criticised what he said were “astonishing failures” by Whakaari Management Limited (WML) – which licenses tours to the island. The case is the largest action of its kind brought by New Zealand’s regulator, Worksafe NZ. The company faces up to NZ$1.5m ($928,000; £724,000) in fines. The December 2019 eruption killed 22 – almost half of the people who were on the island at the time. Most were tourists, including 17 from Australia and three from the US. Another 25 people were injured, with many suffering extensive burns. The volcano, known by its Maori name of Whakaari, had been showing signs of heightened unrest for weeks before the fatal eruption. It is New Zealand’s most active volcano and had been erupting in some form since 2011. Thirteen parties were charged over the disaster. WML was the last to receive a verdict after six had pleaded guilty, while six more had their charges dismissed. Sentences will be passed in February. James, Andrew and Peter Buttle, three brothers who own the company, inherited the volcano and licensed other businesses to run tours. They had also been on trial over alleged breaches of New Zealand’s workplace health and safety legislation as individuals, but had those charges dismissed last month. A lawyer for WML argued that it was merely a landowner without active control of tours to the island and how they were conducted

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.