White Island volcano survivor still asked insulting question about horror day

A volcano survivor who watched her family perish says people still ask her the same rude question more than two years on.

Approximately 50 tourists were exploring New Zealand’s White Island in 2019 when it erupted, killing 22 people and leaving 25 more with horrific injuries.

Stephanie Browitt lost her sister Krystal, 21, and their dad in the disaster which burnt 70% of her body. Medics spent six months treating Stephanie’s injuries in hospital.

The family visited the privately-owned island on December 9 as part of a trip onboard the Ovation of the Seas ship.

Speaking on TikTok while wearing a medical head covering, Stephanie explained why everyone affected “couldn’t jump in the water if it’s an island” after receiving the question from curious viewers.

Stephanie highlighted why her family couldn’t just jump in the sea

She said: “Well as you can see, that’s us, circled, on the island that day, at 2.10pm. And the walls are extremely high up, and we are only surrounded by rock. We’re nowhere near the jetty, and nowhere near the ocean.

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“We are as inland as you can get and under 140 metres from the crater.”

Stephanie pointed out the exact position they were in at the time of the eruption, News.com.au reports.

22 people died out of the 47 on the island at the time

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“So my family and I were at the back of that line, and it was only about a two minute walk, we had only just started walking back to the jetty,” she continued.

“This is the same camera only 40 seconds to a minute apart, and as you can see the island was already engulfed in ash and dust.

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“So we were never, ever, ever going to make it to water. There was literally no chance for the group of 21 people I was with.”

On the second anniversary of the disaster last month, the Australian said it had “ripped” her family apart.

She said: “Today’s not only the day I survived the unimaginable, it’s the day I lost my dad, Paul and sister, Krystal. It’s the day that they were taken from us.

“My accomplishments mean nothing to me knowing they aren’t shared with my sister and dad by my side. Everyday I question why we couldn’t have gone through this extremely hard journey together, why they couldn’t be here also.

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“So when I think about today, it’s filled with very mixed emotions. I’m extremely grateful that I was able to make it back home to my mum, but I’m also heartbroken that only I made it back.

“We are a family of four, not two. My heart hurts when I remember what I felt that day, but it hurts more not knowing what my dad and sister felt, that I wasn’t next to them during their last moments.”

A total of 13 parties such as tour operators and the island’s owners have been charged with failings to avoid the loss of lives but all defendants have pleaded not guilty.


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