Family of White Island victim call for adventure tourism to be regulated

Pratap (Paul) Singh and his wife Mayuari (Mary) Singh
Pratap (Paul) Singh and his wife Mayuari (Mary) Singh Photo credit: NZ Police/ Supplied

The nephew of the latest Whakaari/White Island eruption victims has released a tragic statement which mourns his loss and pleads for the future of adventure tourism to be properly regulated.

Bhupender Singh's uncle Pratap (Paul) Singh died in Middlemore Hospital on Wednesday. His aunt Mayuari (Mary) died in December. The pair is survived by their three young children.

In a gut-wrenching statement, Bhupender said their extended family might never recover from the loss.

"We miss them dearly and their memories are going to stay fresh in our hearts and minds for the times to come," he wrote on Thursday.

"This changes everything, a new normal might be impossible to achieve for our family."

He said his aunt and uncle were a huge part of family life. 

"The heavenly couple lived a fascinating life together serving as the "central hub" for everyone around them. Surviving children, immediate family members, relatives and friends are mourning their loss, we are all left shattered and heartbroken,"

Through his pain, Bhuepender had damning words for the adventure tourism industry, which allowed his aunt and uncle to tour Whakaari/White Island. 

"I visited Paul and Mary every day since December 10, [and] the last 50 days of my life were distressing, slow and agonisingly painful," he said

"I seriously request and encourage volcano tourism in New Zealand and around the world to charter proper safety equipment, including appropriate heat resistant clothing, safety glasses, helmets and face masks."

"Proper safety equipment would have saved my family."

The Whakaari/ White Island eruption occurred on December 9, 2019. At the time of the eruption, 47 people were on the island. 

Of that 47, 21 people died either in the initial explosion or later from the severity of their burns.