Published on Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Investigation into NZ volcano eruption could take months

Criminal charges are still being mulled after the deadly volcanic eruption in New Zealand but the official investigation into the tragedy could take up to a year.

"There remains now questions to be asked and questions to be answered," said New Zealand Prime Minister at a minute's silence to honour the victims a week on from the eruption.

Workplace health and safety agency WorkSafe has begun a health and safety investigation while the coroner's office is conducting a separate probe.

Tour operators as well as cruise lines will be under scrutiny.

WorkSafe will look at what if any failings there were in protecting visitors on the island and whether they should have been allowed there at all.

Many of the visitors on White Island were passengers on the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship.

Sixteen bodies have now been recovered with two still classified as missing.

An additional 26 are still in hospital with several of these in a critical condition with extensive burn injuries.

There has been intense media scrutiny over who is liable for managing the risks given the island is privately owned.

The owner could also face criminal charges.

The NZ government said it would fund NZ$5 million to help small businesses in the area impacted by the White Island eruption.

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