Last December, around 100 tourists set out for New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, where an active volcano has attracted hundreds of thousands of vacationers since the early 1990s. It was supposed to be a routine six-hour tour, including the highlight: a quick hike into the island's otherworldly caldera. Then the volcano exploded. What happened next reveals troubling questions about the risks we're willing to take when lives hang in the balance.

“Jump into the water!” he screamed at his guests. Depauw ran to the water’s edge and leapt. Two clients followed. The other two were unable to make the water in time. Depauw took a lungful of air as the black fog flew toward him. This is it, he thought. There’s no surviving this. Then he ducked.




A vast ball of cloud rolls out of the crater, then, soundlessly and impossibly fast, swallows the island.


"Visiting White Island was about the thrill of feeling a little more alive by feeling a little closer to death, all the while knowing that, really, you were in no more danger than you would be crossing a road."





Lungs turned into stone. 




It felt like walking on the moon. 


...“She was holding on to me,” he said. “Then she went all limp.” Reaching Law, he nodded at the body in his arms. “I think she’s gone,” he said...


Trying to find a heartbeat in a death body.

"I think when you come that close to death things reveal themselves in a very different way, in a way that you’ve never experienced. 


Hold on to your reason of why you want to be here. And know that actually everything matters. In your construction and architecture of your own life, make sure that you are putting the right pieces so that, if/when, it all comes crashing down, you can just take that moment with all the grace and all the peace. 


My realisation is that there is nothing to be afraid of. Not even death itself. As long as you’re living not taking it as a given. Cause this is what you remember in a moment like this. That you have a life, that you needed to live that life. Remember that you have your own life, you’re blessed with this most amazing gift to be a human being. To be living in the time that we live in and to be able to create with the different tools that we have. And to have unparalleled access to knowledge that can allow you to be however you want to be. Don’t wait until you’re confront with death for you to remember that you have this life." -Ammar Kandil