- Title: New Zealand pilot recounts retrieving injured victims after volcano eruption
- Date: 12th December 2019
- Summary: WHAKATANE, NEW ZEALAND (DECEMBER 12, 2019) (REUTERS) 31 YEAR-OLD COMMERCIAL PILOT JASON HILL, CLIMBING ON BOARD HELICOPTER HILL'S HAND OPERATING CONTROL VIEW FROM HELICOPTER HELICOPTER FLYING AWAY OFF WHITE ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND (DECEMBER 12, 2019) (REUTERS) HILL OPERATING HELICOPTER PLUME OF SMOKE RISING OF VOLCANO, SEEN FROM COCKPIT (SOUNDBITE) (English) 31 YEAR-OLD COMMERCIAL PILOT JASON HILL, SAYING: "So yeah, the police have just got a cordon now, exclusion zone, so there's five nautical miles that no aircraft or vessel such as boats are not allowed within, I think it's just to pretty much give the island a little of privacy, but also prevent the risk of eruption."
- Embargoed: 26th December 2019 09:30
- Keywords: Volcano White Island aerials eruption helicopter
- Location: WHAKATANE, OFF WHITE ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND
- City: WHAKATANE, OFF WHITE ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND
- Country: New Zealand
- Topics: Disaster/Accidents,Earthquakes/Volcanoes/Tsunami
- Reuters ID: LVA001B9O54XZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: AUDIO QUALITY AS INCOMING
Just after the volcano on New Zealand's White Island erupted on Monday (December 9) commercial helicopter pilot Jason Hill flew into the danger zone to help rescue survivors and the injured.
At least eight people have died and eight more are missing and presumed dead, buried under ash and debris.
The 31-year-old pilot, who has been flying commercially for the past eight years with the Kahu helicopter company said he transported five victims off of White Island in the aftermath.
"There was a lot of ash on the groundâ€¦ certainly still was very active and not erupting like the initial eruption, but it was still spewing out a lot of gas and ash," said Hill.
He said he only played a small part in the rescue: "I'm only a small percentage, I would only put myself down at least one percent of the people that have helped on this island."
There were 47 people on the island, also known by its Maori name Whakaari, at the time of the eruption. Twenty-four of those were from Australia, nine from the United States, five from New Zealand, four from Germany, two each from China and Britain and one from Malaysia.
Since the eruption, emergency teams have been barred from accessing the island due to the threat of more volcanic activity. But the police are planning a mission to White Island on Friday (December 13) to retrieve bodies.
For those like Hill who rely on tourists for their livelihood, a deadly and active volcano is bad news.
"We'll worry about that when we get to that, once we get these loved ones back to their families and obviously, hopefully, all those people in hospital do get better," said Hill.
Daily tours bring more than 10,000 visitors to privately owned White Island every year, marketed as "the world's most accessible active marine volcano".
(Production: Yiming Woo, Jorge Silva, James Redmayne, Masako Iijima)
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