ENTERTAINMENT

Terrifying, invisible footage revealed when White Island survivors shared their harrowing near-death stories


Astounding, invisible imagery has surfaced from tourists on White Island who were told the risk warning rose just moments before the volcano erupted.

The explosion off the coast of Whakatane, New Zealand, killed 21 of the 47 people on the island on December 9, 2019.

Melbourne-based Stephanie Browitt, 24, survived to tell her harrowing near-death story, but her father Paul and younger sister Krystal were among the 17 Australians killed.

Cool footage from Krystall's cell phone, taken shortly before the disaster, shows gas bubbling out of the crater as a concerned guide warns of the impending danger.

Melbourne-based Stephanie Browitt (left), 24, survived to tell her harrowing near-death story, but her father Paul and younger sister Krystal (right) were among the 17 Australians killed

Cool footage from Krystall's cell phone, taken shortly before the disaster, shows gas bubbling out of the crater as a concerned guide warns of the impending danger

Cool footage from Krystall's cell phone, taken shortly before the disaster, shows gas bubbling out of the crater as a concerned guide warns of the impending danger

Pictured: Stephanie Browitt on White Island just minutes before the volcano erupted

Pictured: Stephanie Browitt on White Island just minutes before the volcano erupted

"The higher the level, the greater the risk of an outbreak," explained the tour guide.

& # 39; Stage three is a breakout. So we are currently on level two and approaching level three. & # 39;

Ms. Browitt recalled that island visitors had been informed that the crater path would be canceled, which was an immediate cause for concern.

“I was very careful and careful as soon as they mentioned that it was a level two. I didn't quite get it because I don't know much about volcanoes in general, ”she said for 60 minutes.

"But when he said we had to go a little faster than usual, I thought, 'Oh, that's a little weird. "

Krystall's phone also captures her last living moments when the volcano erupted and a man's voice screamed "run".

"That's when we realized … (and I made) a split-second decision to just shoot," Ms. Browitt recalled.

& # 39; It just rolled me around, the force was just so strong that my whole body was pushed and pushed and rolled onto the floor.

Krystall's phone also captures her last living moments when the volcano erupted and a man's voice screamed "run". Pictured: Krystal and Stephanie pose for a photo ahead of the breakout

Krystall's phone also captures her last living moments when the volcano erupted and a man's voice screamed "run". Pictured: Krystal and Stephanie pose for a photo ahead of the breakout

Ms. Browitt believes she would not be alive today if hero helicopter pilots Jason Hill and Tom Storey (pictured) hadn't rushed to the island after the eruption

Ms. Browitt believes she would not be alive today if it wasn't for hero helicopter pilots Jason Hill and Tom Storey (pictured) rushing to the island after the eruption

& # 39; I thought I was going to die.

& # 39; The ground burned hot. And I could tell that I was really badly burned. I could see my hand and I could see nails hanging and skin loose. & # 39;

Ms. Browitt said she was angry that she was not informed of the dangers by either the cruise ship or the tour operators prior to arriving on the island.

"It really hurts and annoys me and frustrates me that we weren't told," she said.

“It is an important factor in making an informed decision about visiting the island. And it's just such a huge piece of information that needs to be left out. & # 39;

Ms. Browitt, 24, has undergone 20 surgeries since then after sustaining third-degree burns to 70 percent of her body and losing part of her finger in the eruption.

She believes she would not be alive today if hero helicopter pilots Jason Hill and Tom Storey hadn't rushed to the island after the breakout.

Ms. Browitt, 24, has undergone 20 surgeries since then after sustaining third-degree burns to 70 percent of her body and losing part of her finger in the eruption

Ms. Browitt, 24, has had 20 surgeries since then after sustaining third-degree burns to 70 percent of her body and losing part of her finger in the outbreak

Matthew and Lauren urey

Matthew and Lauren urey

The pilots were then informed that medical assistance would not be available as the island was deemed too unsafe.

“We just thought we had to do something and get these people off the island. We wanted one way or another, ”said Mr. Storey.

Ms. Browitt's injured father Paul caught the pilots' attention but urged them to rescue his daughters first.

A badly burned, but still conscious Stephanie remembers the flight back to mainland New Zealand.

"My body just wanted to shut down, but the pilot kept saying, stay awake, stay awake," she said

"I thought if I close my eyes I don't know if I'll ever wake up."

“These helicopter pilots are heroes because that's not their job. You have not signed up for this. And they still decided to put their lives in danger for us. & # 39;

Stephanie Browitt (pictured shortly before the volcanic eruption) remembered the harrowing moment she was forced to run for her life. Her sister Krystal (left) was killed in the outbreak

Stephanie Browitt (pictured shortly before the volcanic eruption) remembered the harrowing moment she was forced to run for her life. Her sister Krystal (left) was killed in the outbreak

She was put into a coma in the hospital and only found out a few weeks later that her sister had failed.

"It annoys me to know what she went through that I wasn't with her and I wish I could have been there for her final moments," she said

Her father died of his injuries a month after the disaster.

St. John's Medical Director, Dr. Tony Smith, has since admitted that emergency teams should have flown to the island earlier.

But he doesn't think any more lives have been saved.

"But if we had gone to the island earlier, I am medically absolutely confident … unfortunately we would not save any more people," Mr Smith told the program.

But Mrs. Browitt disagrees.

"It's very annoying just because I know it would definitely have made a difference to a lot of the people who were waiting there," Stephanie told 60 minutes. "Lives could have been saved that day."

Other survivors saw their families wiped out, others sustained excruciating burns to almost all bodies, while many underwent dozens of operations or spent time in coma.

Stephanie (left) also lost her father Paul (right), who later died of his injuries in the hospital

Stephanie (left) also lost her father Paul (right), who later died of his injuries in the hospital

Matt and Lauren Urey before they were involved in the White Island outbreak

Matt and Lauren Urey before they were involved in the White Island outbreak

Some firmly believe that more lives could be saved that day.

American newlyweds Matt and Lauren Urey were part of a tour group exploring White Island on their honeymoon.

They had to flee for their lives and sought shelter behind a rock near the water when the dark cloud of volcanic gas quickly enveloped the island.

The couple spent almost two months recovering from their injuries in separate hospitals.

They returned to the US in late January and were hospitalized until they were released in mid-February.

You're still wearing some of the scars and compression garments.

Ms. Urey is furious that more medical personnel have not been flown to the island

In the volcanic disaster on White Island (picture) 21 people were killed, including 17 Australians

In the volcanic disaster on White Island (picture) 21 people were killed, including 17 Australians

& # 39; It makes me angry. I mean, that is their job to save and they were told not to do it. & # 39;

Co-survivor John Cozad, 73, who lost his 43-year-old son Christopher in the disaster, agreed.

"If they had sent two or three helicopters there would be a lot more people alive, including Christopher," he said.

Mr. Cozad wishes he had died in the tragedy and not his son.

"Oh, I'm not blaming myself, but yeah, I think I should have been the one who passed and not him, but I had nothing to do with it," he said.

Day tours to the island once grossed more than $ 4 million a year, but now it's deserted and the layers of ash are a reminder of the disaster.

Attorney Peter Gordon is now suing Royal Caribbean cruise line on behalf of the Browitt family.

& # 39; They failed. They let their passengers down. They fail families, they fail the Browitt family, ”he said.

"Your standard of conduct goes beyond negligence and seems to me to be a willful and reckless indifference to what would happen on this island."

Marie, Paul, Krystal and Stephanie Browitt before the disaster on White Island tore the family apart

Marie, Paul, Krystal and Stephanie Browitt before the disaster on White Island tore the family apart

(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) News (t) New Zealand