The need for people to recover their dead from a disaster scene or from a battlefield is an intrinsic part of a grieving process and one of the strongest emotions one can endure.
This is demonstrated during war by battles that have been stopped to allow for bodies to be recovered in France, Gallipoli, and here in NZ.
The West Coast families had lobbied for years to have their dead returned to them from the Pike River mine. This is now under way at last.
The next saddest thing about the White Island disaster is that it seems the police have learnt little from Pike River on how to deal with the immediate aftermath of a disaster, how to communicate, and the importance of a speedy recovery before statutory obligations drop into place and bind everything up in red tape.
The window of opportunity for the recovery of bodies was demonstrated shortly after the eruption. It was too early for the police to get out the rule book, impose movement restrictions, or phone Wellington.
The more the experts are involved, the wider are their opinions and the slower the response in what should be a dynamic environment.
Chopper pilots who bravely rescued the injured and dying, and have spent years working the island, should have been the first to be consulted. With their experience and their local knowledge they should have been asked to assess their own risk and be allowed to act accordingly.
The White Island disaster is an international event. The anguish of the bereaved here and overseas with respect to body recovery is widely portrayed and we are not scoring well in this area.
Also on a different level, the obvious frustration of the chopper pilots who wanted to go back, who had, in fact, mapped the location of the bodies for this event but were blocked.
Otherwise, the police do a magnificent job in protecting us and our property but is this kind of occurrence outside their area of expertise?
I have to vehemently disagree with both Carmen Hall and Paddi Hodgkiss (Opinion, December 12) regarding their attitude to the dangers of White Island.
Letters: Rule-breakers saved lives on White Island
Letters: Volcanoes dangerous but fascinating
Nature offers no rewards and no punishments, only consequences.
There are many and varied dangers on our planet, some are blatantly obvious, some are hidden but all have a degree of warning attached to them - risk the warnings and you suffer the consequences.
Walking into a known danger is stupid, to take others is in my opinion wrong, and ergo punishment is due and essential. (Abridged)
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