In 2019, a group of tourists visited a small volcanic island located thirty miles off the coast of New Zealand. The outcrop, called Whakaari by the Maori, is uninhabited. Nevertheless, its spectacular scenery has attracted people to explore its beauty ever since Captain Cook noted the island in 1769.
Three groups of travellers arrived at Whakaari around midday on December 10th 2019. By that evening, 22 of them would be dead, and another 25 would be horrifically injured and struggling for life.
Three years later, many of the survivors have made incredible recoveries and are now sharing their stories.
THE 2019 WHAKAARI ERUPTION
The Volcano: Rescue From Whakaari features brave individuals recounting their experiences and sharing how they survived against all odds. This engaging documentary features real scenes of the eruption captured on cell phones by those on the island.
The film starts with interviews of those who survived the disaster, talking about how they came to be on the island.
Most had joined a day trip to Whakaari from a nearby cruise ship. The tour was sold to them as an exciting excursion, but many had no idea of the danger involved.
Whakaari has been an active volcano for centuries. The documentary explains how it had previously erupted in 2012 and 2016. One interviewee explained that once on the island, she was told about the previous eruptions and quickly worked out that the group was in real danger.
The documentary then moves on to the events of December 10th, 2019. On the day of the eruption, two small boats and one helicopter landed on the island. In total, 47 people were on Whakaari when disaster struck.
The documentary features real footage taken by survivors running for their lives. Plumes of ash, super-heated gas and rocks rained down on them as they tried to outrun the disaster. The harrowing images show how quickly the situation escalated; within moments, people were running for their lives, some of them never to be seen again.
The documentary interviews survivors and those who lost loved ones in the eruption, showing how difficult it is for everyone involved to cope with the aftermath. Recovery physically and emotionally has been incredibly challenging, yet some of those interviewed have managed to find ways forward through their grief and trauma.
The bravery of many people on the day saved lives, and the documentary shows how, even in the face of extreme danger, people risked their own safety to help others.
At times this is a heartbreaking documentary and a reminder of the power of nature, as well as a testament to the heroic efforts made by ordinary people who risked their lives to save those stranded on the island. It's an important story that needs to be shared, and it's one that I highly recommend watching.
OTHER DISASTER DOCUMENTARIES?
If you're looking for more documentary films like The Volcano: Rescue From Whakaari, then I suggest watching LAST BREATH. This captivating tale chronicles the true gripping account of an intrepid deep-sea diving squad dispatched to mend a North Sea oil platform amidst perilous conditions.
Disaster strikes when a computer on the support vessel malfunctions. It leaves one diver stranded 90 metres beneath the surface with only 5 minutes of air left in his tank.
Another rescue drama, although one with a happier ending than ‘The Volcano‘, is ‘The Rescue‘ on Disney+. The film takes us into the notorious cave system where twelve teenage football players became trapped by floods in the summer of 2018.