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Geoff Hopkins says he will never forget the cries as the survivors of the White Island volcano eruption were pulled aboard the boat.
Screaming in pain, with skin peeling from their faces and limbs scorched by steam and ash, the survivors were transferred from a dinghy bobbing in the water off the small island.
Lots - Screaming - Shouting
There was “lots of screaming. Panicked screaming,” he says, recalling the injured shouting: “‘Get me out of here. I’m burning. I’m burning.'”
The tour boat Hopkins was on had left White Island, off the coast of Whakatane, New Zealand, shortly before the volcano erupted on Monday. Forty-seven people were on the island at the time of the blast. Eight people have so far been confirmed dead.
Moments - Eruption - Boat - Crew - Decision
In the moments immediately after the eruption, the boat’s crew made the decision to turn around and help those people left behind.
“We (could) see there’s people in the water. There’s people swimming off the island,” Hopkins, a New Zealand pastor who was on the vessel for a day trip with his daughter Lillani, told CNN.
People - Board - Boat - Burns
The 23 people who were brought on board the boat had “horrific burns,” he said.
“A lot of people were in shorts, T-shirts, so their faces, their arms, their hands, their legs (were burned),” Hopkins added. “Skin falling off, and hanging from chins. From fingers. From elbows.”
Vessel - Company - White - Island - Tours
The vessel, owned by a company called White Island Tours, was more accustomed to running sightseeing trips than being used as a floating triage center, but as more and more injured people were brought to the boat by dinghies, the crew made a desperate appeal for any doctors on board to come forward.
Hopkins and his daughter are both trained in first aid, and they stepped up to help as the situation unfolded.
Crew - Member - Expression - Look - Horror
He recalled one crew member’s expression: “The look of horror on her face as...
(Excerpt) Read more at: KTLA
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