A filmmaker has captured the first images of White Island since the New Zealand volcano erupted and killed 21 people on Dec. 9 last year.
Geoff Mackley went out to the island, 70 kilometres off the North Island coast, and sent up a drone to capture ‘eerie’ images of how the volcanic island looks now, ten months on from the disaster.
Forty-seven people were on the island when its volcano erupted, and only 26 people made it out alive, many with lifelong disfiguring and painful scarring.
Mackley said it was unnerving being out at the island, saying he ‘thought about what went on out there and how terrible it would have been.’
A filmmaker has captured the first images of White Island less than a year after its volcano erupted and killed 21 people
Geoff Mackley stopped his boat near the shoreline of the death trap that sits just 70 kilometres off New Zealand’s North Island
Although Mackley kept a safe distance away, he could still smell the sulphur emanating from the island
The few man-made structures on the island were obliterated by the eruption, with an abandoned helicopter the only physical reminder of the island’s former status as a tourist drawcard.
Trips out to the island once brought in more than $4million a year but it is now deserted, with the layers of ash a reminder of the disaster.
‘It’s not like it was before, where there was clearly defined tracks,’ Mackley said.
‘They’ve been totally obliterated. It’s like no-one has ever been there. So yeah, it’s pretty eerie.’
It was now deemed too dangerous for tourists to return, and Mackley himself kept a safe distance.
‘I know that it can blow up without warning at any time,’ he told Stuff. ‘It’s Russian roulette.
‘Something’s not highly likely to happen today, but if you were going out there every day, something will happen eventually.’
The eruption trapped tourists on the island, many unable to outrun the plumes of acidic gas and ash that surrounded them.
Some saw their entire families wiped out, others suffered excruciating burns to nearly all of their bodies and many have undergone dozens of surgeries or been placed into long comas.
Among the list of victims was Melbourne father Paul Browitt and his 21-year-old daughter Krystal.
His 23-year-old daughter Stephanie received third degree burns to 70 per cent of her body and lost a number of her fingers.
She was one of the few survivors who was airlifted off the island by a rescue helicopter.
What was once a tourism hotspot that brought in more than $4million a year, was now a deserted and burned up wasteland
The burned skeletal remains of tourism buildings stand alone and look ready to tumble at any moment
A damaged helicopter with a broken blade is one of the few things that remains standing on the island
The eruption trapped tourists on the island, many unable to outrun the plumes of acidic gas and ash that surrounded them
Photographs showed only one, damaged helicopter remains on the island.
The force of the eruption had lifted the vehicle off its landing pad and badly bent one of its main rotor blades.
The burned remains of a building are one of the few things still standing on the abandoned island
Authorities have stopped anyone from visiting the island since its eruption in December 2019
Mackley lamented the fact there were plenty of hours in the day when the island was deserted and the volcano could have erupted
Australian victims in White Island tragedy: The dead and injured
24 Australians were among 47 tourists on New Zealand’s White Island when it erupted.
Julie Richards, 47, and her daughter Jessica, 20, from Brisbane.
Julie Richards, 47, and her daughter Jessica, 20, (pictured) from Brisbane are among the dead
Martin Hollander and his wife Barbara
Martin Berend Hollander, 48, from Sydney.
His two sons Berend, 16, and Matthew, 13, who attended Sydney’s Knox Grammar, both died in hospital after suffering serious injuries in the blast.
According to his Linkedin profile, Mr Hollander works at Transport for NSW as a freight initiatives manager.
He is also a director at a Singaporean investment management firm, Wipunen Incrementum Capital.
He was on a family holiday with his wife, who remains unaccounted for, and two kids, who were confirmed dead on Thursday.
Martin Berend Hollander, 48, from Sydney, was formally identified on Monday. His wife Barbara (left) is yet to be formally identified
Gavin Dallow, 53, and stepdaughter Zoe Hosking, 15, from Adelaide
The Hosking/Dallow family had been on a tour at the time of the eruption. Mum Lisa Dallow is among the injured in hospital. Her husband Gavin (right) 53, and 15-year-old daughter Zoe, from Adelaide, (left) were confirmed dead on Wednesday
Mr Dallow’s body was identified by police from the five bodies recovered from the island. Zoe was formally identified as a victim on Sunday.
Karla Mathews, 32, and Richard Elzer, 32, from Coffs Harbour, NSW
Karla Mathews (left), 32, is dead as is boyfriend Richard Elzer (right), 32, from Coffs Harbour
The couple were identified as those tourists still on the island and therefore presumed dead by their families.
Jason Griffiths, 33, Coffs Harbour, NSW
Jason Griffiths, 33, from Coffs Harbour was taken to hospital in critical condition but died from his injuries on Wednesday
Jason Griffiths, 33, from Coffs Harbour, NSW, died from his injuries after being taken to hospital in critical condition.
He had been on a tour of the volcano with couple Karla Mathews, 32, and Richard Elzer, 32, who are now presumed dead, friends said.
Matthew (Year 8) and Berend Hollander (Year 10) from Sydney
Matthew (left, year eight) and Berend (right, year 10) Hollander were confirmed dead on Thursday morning
Knox Grammar schoolboy brothers Matthew, 13, and Berend, 16, Hollander.
They died in two New Zealand hospitals after escaping the island with horrific burns.
Their father Martin was confirmed dead.
Krystal Browitt, 21, from Melbourne, and her father Paul
Krystal Browitt was on the cruise for her 21st birthday with family
Ms Browitt was on the Ovation of the Seas cruise for her 21st birthday with family.
Mr Browitt died on 13 January in hospital.
Their mother Marie escaped death by staying on the cruise liner.
Anthony Langford, 51, and his wife Kristine Langford, 45, from Sydney
Anthony Langford, 51, (pictured with wife Kristine) had been among those still unaccounted for in the disaster. He was confirmed dead by police on Sunday
Kristine Langford, 45, from Sydney, is also among those dead.
The couple’s 19-year-old son Jesse survived the volcano eruption, and is recovering in hospital with burns to 90 per cent of his body.
Mr Langford worked for Sydney Water.
Winona Langford, 17, Sydney
Police said Winona Lanford (pictured centre back row between her parents Anthony and Kristine) was one of the missing bodies still on White Island. She is not thought to have survived
NZ Police said one of the bodies still missing on White Island belonged to 17-year-old Winona Langford from Sydney.
Winona’s mother and father have been confirmed dead.
Her body is either entombed on the deadly volcano island or is in the sea.
Lisa Dallow, 49, from Adelaide
Lisa Dallow (right with her husband Gavin who is missing), 49, from Adelaide
She was an induced coma in Hamilton Hospital, with 57 per cent of her body burnt.
Jesse Langford, 19, Sydney
Found: Jesse Langford (pictured with Michelle Spring, believed to be his girlfriend) is in hospital but his condition is not clear
He is reported to have suffered burns to 90 per cent of his body.