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Netflix’s newest documentary, The Volcano: Rescue From Whakaari, tells the terrifying story of the unexpected eruption of New Zealand’s Whakaari (aka White Island) volcano on Dec. 9, 2019.

At the time of the volcano’s eruption, 47 people were visiting White Island, putting their lives in grave danger. “I knew what could happen out there, but you don’t believe it will happen,” one sightseer shared in the trailer. Another chimed in with this devastating comment: “I thought, this was it. We’re going to die on our honeymoon.”

As the documentary shows, rescue workers had difficulty getting to survivors due to the eruption and aftermath, and the evacuation of people from the island was harrowing.

It’s understandable to have a lot of questions about the Whakaari volcano eruptions and victims after watching the trailer and documentary. Here’s what you need to know.

Where is Whakaari?

The island, also called White Island, is located in the Bay of Plenty, 30 miles away from the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

aerial of white island volcano, near bay of plenty

Whakaari (White Island) volcano, located the near Bay of Plenty in New Zealand.

Holger Leue//Getty Images

What happened at Whakaari?

On Monday, Dec. 9, 2019 at 2:11 p.m., the Whakaari volcano exploded in a series of violent blasts, per National Geographic. Ash was flung 12,000 feet into the sky and hot debris rained down.

At the time, tourists were visiting the volcano, and several were right next to the volcano’s active vent, National Geographic reported. “This was probably the actual worst-case scenario,” Shane Cronin, an Earth scientist at the University of Auckland, told National Geographic.

How many people were on the island?

At the time of the eruption, there were 47 people on the island, according to The Guardian. Of those, 38 of them came from the cruise liner, Ovation of the Seas, and the people affected came from all over the world. Twenty-four people were from Australia, nine from the U.S., two from the U.K., four from Germany, five from New Zealand, two from China, and one from Malaysia, per The Guardian.

How many victims were there?

Overall, 22 people died in the blast, per RNZ. The victims included Australian brothers Berend Hollander, 16, and Matthew Hollander, 13, along with their parents, Martin and Barbara. Martin Hollander originally from Australia but moved to Chicago for work, RNZ says. They moved to Sydney five years before the tragedy.

Australians Gavin Dallow, 53, and his step-daughter Zoe Hosking, 15, also died in the explosion, but Gavin’s wife survived, although in critical condition. A statement from the family called Gavin a “wonderful son and brother,” noting that “our hearts break at the loss of Zoe at such a young age,” per RNZ.

It took days for authorities to fully identify those who lost their lives in the volcano’s eruption, and several of the victims were related, having traveled to the island as a family. According to BBC, the 22 victims included:

  • Richard Aaron Elzer, 32, from Australia
  • Barbara Jean Hollander, 49, from the U.S.
  • Berend Lawrence Hollander, 16, from the U.S.
  • Matthew Robert Hollander, 13, from the U.S.
  • Martin Berend Hollander, 48, from Australia
  • Julie Richards, 47, from Australia
  • Jessica Richards, 20, from Australia
  • Krystal Eve Browitt, 21, from Australia
  • Tipene Maangi, 24, from New Zealand
  • Zoe Ella Hosking, 15, from Australia
  • Gavin Brian Dallow, 53, from Australia
  • Karla Michelle Mathews, 32, from Australia
  • Jason David Griffiths, 33, from Australia
  • Kristine Elizabeth Langford, 45, from Australia
  • Anthony James Langford, 51, from Australia
  • Winona Jane Langford, 17, from Australia
  • Hayden Bryan Marshall-Inman, 40, from New Zealand.

How many people survived?

Sixteen people survived the blast, according to the Daily Mail, but some were left with life-altering burn injuries. In the trailer, you see the honeymooning couple clasp hands together, both of which are extremely scarred. According to the Manchester Evening News, some of the survivors included:

  • Jesse Langford, from Australia
  • Kelsey Waghorn, from New Zealand
  • Matt Urey, from the U.S.
  • Lauren Urey, from the U.S.
  • Stephanie Browitt, from Australia
  • Brian Depauw, from New Zealand
  • Lisa Dallow, from Australia
  • Jake Milbank, from New Zealand
  • John Cozad, from Australia

Jesse Langford, who was 19 at the time, lost his parents and 17-year-old sister in the explosion. He “had suffered burns to 90 percent of his body, and was unable to attend the funeral of his mother and father, instead watching from the hospital,” the Manchester Evening News reported.

Kelsey, a tour guide on the island who is now 26, spent 65 days in the hospital and was put into a coma, the outlet reported. She later had 14 surgeries and had to relearn how to walk.

Lisa Dallow lost her husband and son on the island, and was in a coma for two months. Jake Milbank, 19 at the time, has also undergone extensive recovery after dozens of surgeries. He keeps his followers updated on his progress on Instagram:

The island has been closed to visitors since the explosion, RNZ reports.

The Volcano: The Rescue From Whakaari is streaming now on Netflix.

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