Heart-stopping never-before-seen vid shows terrified tourists flee crater of erupting New Zealand volcano that killed 22 | The Sun

HARROWING footage shows the moment tourists frantically fled as a volcano started erupting before 22 were killed.

Dozens of holidaymakers were on White Island, New Zealand, when the volcano suddenly exploded on December 9, 2019.

A clip that has now emerged shows around 18 tourists and guides out of the group of 47 on the island, close to the crater.

Wearing yellow helmets, some can be seen drawing out their phones to capture huge plumes of white and grey smoke spewing from the volcano just a stone's throw away.

But one of the guides urges the sightseers to move away, shouting: "Come on guys, follow me. Let's go."

An American tourist then echoes his fears, telling the others to "move, move, move".

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Others then start calling out and they all race away from the crater.

The tourist filming then urges people to hide behind rocks before deciding to continue fleeing.

In the background, the cloud of steam and ash can be seen towering over – growing bigger and bigger by the second.

Sadly, 22 were killed in the horror blast – and most of the survivors were left severely burned.

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Of those who died, 14 were Australians, five were Americans, two were New Zealanders and one was German.

The release of the shocking footage comes as a landmark trial gets underway.

Brothers Andrew, James and Peter Buttle, who own the island, their company Whakaari Management Ltd.; and tour operators ID Tours NZ Ltd. and Tauranga Tourism Services Ltd face allegations of failing to adequately protect tourists and staff.

A prosecutor said on Tuesday tourists received no health and safety warnings before they landed on New Zealand's most active volcano ahead of the eruption.

Prosecutor Kristy McDonald said in opening the prosecution case that the eruption at the popular tourist destination was not predictable, but was foreseeable.

She added: "They were not given the opportunity to make any informed decision about whether they wanted to take the risk of walking into the crater of an active and unpredictable volcano that had erupted as recently as 2016.

"The business of tourism on Whakaari was a risky business.

"It involved tours to an active volcano, taking people to the heart of the crater in circumstances where no one could predict when an eruption might occur, and if an eruption did occur, those on Whakaari were likely to die or suffer very serious injury.

"And tragically, that risk was realised."

One of the survivors of the blast, 26-year-old Stephanie Browitt, suffered devastating burns to 70 per cent of her body.

Her dad Paul and sister Krystal, 21, were killed in the explosion while her mum Marie stayed behind on the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship and watched on in horror as the volcano flared.

Tourists have not been to White Island since the incident.

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Each of the companies involved in the trial faces a maximum fine of NZ$1.5 million (£720,000). Each of the brothers charged faces a maximum fine of NZ$300,000 (£144,000).

The trial, scheduled to run for 16 weeks, continues.

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