Victims’ families to sue Royal Caribbean cruises over New Zealand White Island volcano tragedy 

‘Completely preventable’: Victims’ families to sue Royal Caribbean cruises over New Zealand White Island volcano tragedy

  • Victims of White Island disaster suing Royal Caribbean following deadly eruption
  • Of those who died, 19 were on an excursion from Ovation of the Seas cruise ship
  • Tourists had booked and paid for the trip to volcanic island with Royal Caribbean 
  • 21 people were killed after hot, toxic ash rained down as tourists explored island
  • Passengers injured in disaster and families of dead suing cruise ship operator 

By Charlie Coë For Daily Mail Australia

Published: 19:45 EDT, 26 April 2020 | Updated: 22:06 EDT, 26 April 2020

Victims of the White Island volcano tragedy are suing Royal Caribbean in the wake of the deadly eruption which killed 21 people and injured dozens more.

Of those who died in the December 9 eruption in New Zealand, 19 had been on-board the Ovations of the Seas cruise ship and booked to tour the island with Royal Caribbean. 

Passengers injured in the disaster as well as family of the deceased are now pursuing legal action against the company for alleged negligence, breach of Australian consumer law and breach of contract.     

The White Island eruption off the coast of New Zealand killed 21 people in December. Families of the deceased and passengers injured in the disaster are now suing Royal Caribbean over the disaster

The White Island eruption off the coast of New Zealand killed 21 people in December. Families of the deceased and passengers injured in the disaster are now suing Royal Caribbean over the disaster

The White Island eruption off the coast of New Zealand killed 21 people in December. Families of the deceased and passengers injured in the disaster are now suing Royal Caribbean over the disaster

Rita Yousef, whose law firm Stacks Goudkamp is pursuing damages, said the deaths could have been avoided.

At the time of the eruption there were 47 people on the line – of whom 24 were Australian. 

Sixteen Australians were among the dead after a large plume of hot, toxic ash engulfed tourists exploring the island.

‘It was completely preventable. It shouldn’t have happened,’ she told ABC News

Ms Yousef claimed the brochure given to passengers did not prepare them for the risk of visiting the island.

‘They were told in the brochure that all they needed to do if they were attending this tour was to wear enclosed shoes,’ she ‘It’s had an amazingly horrific impact. People have lost loved ones.

A White Island tour operator rescuing people from the island minutes after it erupted. The law firm representing the families of victims of the eruption called the disaster 'completely preventable'

A White Island tour operator rescuing people from the island minutes after it erupted. The law firm representing the families of victims of the eruption called the disaster 'completely preventable'

A White Island tour operator rescuing people from the island minutes after it erupted. The law firm representing the families of victims of the eruption called the disaster ‘completely preventable’

Of the 21 who lost their lives, 19 had been on-board the Ovations of the Seas cruise ship (pictured) and booked to tour the island with Royal Caribbean

Of the 21 who lost their lives, 19 had been on-board the Ovations of the Seas cruise ship (pictured) and booked to tour the island with Royal Caribbean

Of the 21 who lost their lives, 19 had been on-board the Ovations of the Seas cruise ship (pictured) and booked to tour the island with Royal Caribbean

‘They had to witness them in hospital having been completely burnt, being completely unrecognisable from their horrific burns, and people are having to somehow pick up the pieces.’

The alert level for White Island had been raised in the weeks prior to the eruption to a level two – the highest level a volcano can be when it is not already erupting.

Royal Caribbean declined to comment on the case when contacted by Daily Mail Australia.

‘Following the eruption, Royal Caribbean have focused on providing care and support to passengers, their families and crew that were impacted by this event,’ the company said.

Pictured: A tour helicopter which had its rotors destroyed during the eruption on December 9

Pictured: A tour helicopter which had its rotors destroyed during the eruption on December 9

Pictured: A tour helicopter which had its rotors destroyed during the eruption on December 9

‘Our thoughts remain with the victims and their families. The details of the tour are the subject of two separate investigations in New Zealand which we will be fully cooperating with and we are unable to provide further details at this time.’

It comes after three of the White Island survivors told how they held their breath underwater for two minutes in a move that saved their lives as a toxic cloud of ash hovered above. 

Helicopter pilot Brian Depauw landed his aircraft with a group of German tourists on the volcanic island off the coast of New Zealand moments before it erupted on December 9 last year.

The group were forced to flee by boat as their chopper’s rotors were destroyed when it was thrown from its launch pad amid the explosion.

When he realised the helicopter couldn’t fly, Mr Depauw saw plumes of ash coming towards the group and screamed ‘jump into the water!’

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.   

THE DEAD: 

Julie Richards, 47, and her daughter Jessica, 20, from Brisbane, have been officially confirmed dead. 

Julie Richards, 47, and her daughter Jessica, 20, (pictured) from Brisbane are among the dead

Julie Richards, 47, and her daughter Jessica, 20, (pictured) from Brisbane are among the dead

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, was missing but was formally identified on Monday.

His two sons Berend, 16, and Matthew, 13, who attended Sydney’s Knox Grammar, both died in hospital last week 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

Martin Berend Hollander, 48, from Sydney, was formally identified on Monday. His wife Barbara (left) is yet to be formally identified

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 

Lisa Dallow's 15-year-old daughter Zoe (pictured) has been confirmed dead

Lisa Dallow's 15-year-old daughter Zoe (pictured) has been confirmed dead

Gavin Dallow, from Adelaide, has been confirmed dead

Gavin Dallow, from Adelaide, has been confirmed dead

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

Karla Mathews (left), 32, is dead as is boyfriend Richard Elzer (right), 32, from Coffs Harbour

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 on Wednesday.

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 was taken to hospital in critical condition but died from his injuries on Wednesday

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 on Wednesday after being taken to hospital in critical condition. 

He was officially confirmed dead by police on Monday. 

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 Hollander

Matthew Hollander

Berend Hollander

Berend Hollander

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 were confirmed dead on Thursday morning.

They died in two New Zealand hospitals after escaping the island with horrific burns. 

Their father Martin was confirmed dead on Monday, while their mother Barbara is yet to be confirmed dead or identified by police.  

Krystal Browitt, 21, from Melbourne, and her father Paul

Krystal Browitt was on the cruise for her 21st birthday with family

Krystal Browitt was on the cruise for her 21st birthday with family

Krystal Browitt was on the cruise for her 21st birthday with family

Ms Browitt was formally identified as a victim on Saturday. She was on the Ovation of the Seas cruise for her 21st birthday with family.

Mr Browitt died on 13 January in hospital, where her sister Stephanie is in serious condition. 

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

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

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 officially confirmed dead on Monday. 

The body of her husband Anthony, 51 was formally identified on Sunday, and her daughter Winona, 17, is still missing and presumed 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

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

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 

On Tuesday, 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 while her brother Jesse remains in hospital.

Her body is either entombed on the deadly volcano island or is in the sea.  

THE INJURED: 

Lisa Dallow, 49, from Adelaide

Lisa Dallow (right with her husband Gavin who is missing), 49, from Adelaide

Lisa Dallow (right with her husband Gavin who is missing), 49, from Adelaide

Lisa Dallow (right with her husband Gavin who is missing), 49, from Adelaide

She is 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

Found: Jesse Langford (pictured with Michelle Spring, believed to be his girlfriend) is in hospital but his condition is not clear

Found: Jesse Langford (pictured with Michelle Spring, believed to be his girlfriend) is in hospital but his condition is not clear

He has been identified among the injured in hospital. He is reported to have suffered burns to 90 per cent of his body 

 

 

 

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