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Some Ontario high school teachers hold one-day strike which affects nine boards

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Dec 11th, 2019

High school students at nine Ontario school boards will be out class today as their teachers hold a one-day strike to protest the lack of progress in contract talks with Premier Doug Ford’s government.

The Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation, which represents public high school teachers, says it will move ahead with the job action as talks appear to have stalled.

The strike will affect a series of boards including the provinces’ largest — the Toronto District School Board — as well as boards in Southwestern, Eastern and Northern Ontario.

A similar job action closed all high schools — and many elementary schools — last week across the province.

Teachers have said they are pushing back against the Ford government’s plans to increase class sizes and introduce mandatory e-learning courses.

The government has said the key issue at the bargaining table is compensation, with the province offering a one-per-cent annual wage increase, and the union asking for around two per cent.

IMPACTED BOARDS

  • Toronto District School Board
  • Simcoe County District School Board
  • Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board
  • Grand Erie District School Board
  • Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board
  • Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board
  • Near North District School Board
  • Rainy River District School Board
  • Trillium Lakelands District School Board

SCHOOLS/LOCATIONS TO BE PICKETED

  • Don Mills CI
  • Jarvis CI
  • Alternative Schools/Bickford Centre
  • Central Technical
  • SOLE/Monarch Park CI
  • Dr Norman Bethune CI
  • Kinga Surma Constituency Office

Police investigation shuts down portion of Hwy. 410 in Brampton

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Dec 11th, 2019

A portion of Highway 410 in Brampton has been shut down after police made an arrest during a traffic stop.

Emergency crews were called to the highway between Williams Parkway and Queen Street around 3 a.m. on Wednesday.

One person was taken to hospital with minor injuries. The nature of the injuries has not been released.

It is not yet known if the person arrested is also the one in hospital.

One northbound lane is closed in the area as police investigate.

12 Days of Giveaways: Social Media Rules and Regulations

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Dec 11th, 2019

 

CONTEST RULES

(the “Official Rules”)

 

12 DAYS OF HOLIDAY

(the “Contest”)

 

These Official Rules govern the Contest.  By participating or attempting to participate in the Contest, you will be deemed to have received, understood, and agreed to these Official Rules.

 

  1. WHO are the Sponsors?

 

The Contest is sponsored and administered by Rogers Communications Inc. or one of its subsidiaries or their affiliates (“Rogers”).

 

The following entities are co-sponsors of the Contest: Aritzia Canada, Drake General Store, Jenny Bird, Hudson’s Bay Company, Roots Canada, Google Canada, Callula Co., M.A.C, Sephora, Amorepacific Beauty, IKEA, Hub6, and the Toronto Christmas Market.

 

Rogers and any co-sponsors of the Contest are referred to collectively or individually as the “Sponsors”.

 

Although the Contest may be communicated, promoted, or administered by means of a third party social media or social networking service or site (a “Third Party Service”), the Contest is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, any Third Party Service; any questions, comments or complaints regarding the Contest should be directed to Rogers and not to any Third Party Service.

 

  1. WHO MAY ENTER THE CONTEST?

 

Contest open to minors

 

The following individuals are not eligible to enter the Contest:

  • employees, officers, directors, agents, and representatives of: (i) the Sponsors, or any of their respective parents, subsidiaries or affiliates; (ii) any prize suppliers; (iii) any and all other companies associated with the Contest;
  • a household member of any of the individuals listed in (a), above, whether or not related;
  • members of the immediate family (spouse, parent, child, sibling) of the individuals listed in (a), above.

 

  1. WHEN DOES the contest START/END?

 

You may enter the Contest between 5:00 AM on December 13 and 11:59 PM on December 23rd (“Entry Period”).  All times referenced in these Official Rules are EST.

 

  1. how do I enter the contest?

 

No purchase is necessary to enter the Contest.

 

To enter the Contest, log into your Instagram account during the Entry Period (note: must be a valid account) and comment (i)  #12DAYSOFHOLIDAY

 

How many times may i ENTER THE CONTEST?

 

One entry per entry mechanism

 

There is a limit of one entry per person per entry mechanism described in these Official Rules.

 

  1. cOULD MY ENTRY BE REFUSED OR REJECTED?

 

Your entry could be refused or rejected if:

  • you attempt to enter the Contest in a fashion not authorized by these Official Rules;
  • your entry contains false or misleading information, or is late, falsified, illegible, damaged or incomplete or otherwise irregular;
  • your entry is submitted using robotic, automated, programmed, or other illicit means; or
  • your entry is not in compliance with these Official Rules.

 

In addition, the Sponsors reserve the right to refuse any entry for any other reason as they may determine.

 

  1. WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS OF ENTRY?

 

By entering the Contest:

  • you agree to be bound by these Official Rules and by the decisions of the Sponsors, which decisions are final, binding and conclusive;
  • you represent and warrant that (i) your entry, including any material comprising your entry (e.g. name, user name, profile picture, etc., as applicable) and any material submitted with your entry (e.g. photograph, video, written submission, or other form of submission, as applicable) (all such material, collectively, the “Entry Material”) is original to you, (ii) you have all necessary rights in and to your Entry Material to enter the Contest, including the consent of any third parties whose personal information is included in your Entry Material, and (iii) your Entry Material does not contain, depict, include or involve content that is, or could reasonably be considered to be, inappropriate, unsuitable or offensive, as determined by the Sponsors;
  • you understand and agree that your entry, including your Entry Material, will not be returned to you and may be moderated or edited by Rogers as it deems appropriate;
  • you grant to the Sponsors the irrevocable right to use your Entry Material in any media worldwide and for any purpose related to the Contest (or any similar contest), including the right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, or create derivative works from, your Entry Material without notification, compensation or additional consideration to you;
  • you waive all claims of moral rights in any use of your Entry Material by Rogers pursuant to the rights granted in these Official Rules;
  • you agree that the Sponsors shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity or eligibility to enter the Contest; failure to provide any such proof upon request may result in disqualification;
  • you release and forever discharge the Sponsors, their respective parents, affiliates, and subsidiaries, any other companies associated with the Contest, and all of their respective directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, licensees, successors and assigns, as well as any Third Party Services, (collectively, the “Releasees”), and agree to indemnify and hold harmless each of the Releasees, from and against any and all claims, damages or liability, including any costs or losses related to personal injury, death, damage to or loss or destruction of property, arising out of, or in any way related to, (i) your participation in the Contest, (ii) the awarding, receipt, possession, use or misuse of any prize, in whole or in part, or any travel or activity related to any prize, (iii) the use of any Entry Material or Publicity Material (defined below) in accordance with the rights granted in these Official Rules, or (iv) any breach of these Official Rules.

 

 

  1. WHAT ARE THE CONTEST PRIZES?

 

There are 12 prizes available to be won in the Contest, as follows:

 

of:

 

  • Jenny Bird prize back (Approx. $250)
  • Aritzia Super Puff (Approx $200)
  • Google Home (Approx $150)
  • Hudson’s Bay Company prize pack (Approx $450)
  • MEC Giftcard (Valued at $250)

 

 

 

  1. are there any prize conditions?

 

In addition to any prize conditions provided elsewhere in these Official Rules, any prize awarded in the Contest is subject to the following conditions:

  • Except for gift cards, vouchers or cash prizes, the prize value in these Official Rules is approximate only. You will not be compensated if actual prize value is lower than the value quoted in these Official Rules.   
  • The prize may be substituted, in whole or in part, with a prize or prize component of equal or greater value if the prize or prize component cannot be awarded for any reason.
  • The prize must be accepted as awarded and may not be transferred, unless otherwise determined by the Sponsors. The prize may not be exactly as advertised.  The prize is provided “as is” without representation or warranty of any kind by the Sponsors.
  • The prize may not be resold.
  • Any unused portion of the prize, once awarded, will be deemed forfeited. The prize will not be replaced if lost, destroyed, mutilated or stolen.

 

 

  1. how will the potential winner(s) be selected?

 

 

Draw

 

On date at approximately time in city, province, Rogers will conduct a random draw from among all eligible entries received.  For each prize to be awarded pursuant to these Official Rules, one entrant will be randomly selected as a potential winner and notified using the information provided at the time of entry.  In the event any potential winner does not respond to such notification within three (3) business days, declines a prize for any reason, or does not meet the requirements set forth in these Official Rules, as determined by the Sponsors, the potential winner will be disqualified and, time permitting, an alternate potential winner may be randomly selected from among remaining eligible entries, or the prize may be cancelled.

 

  1. how can a potential winner BECOME A winner?

 

To be declared a winner, a potential winner:

  • must be in compliance with these Official Rules;
  • must sign and return, within any designated time period, a release of liability and consent to publicity form and any other documentation as reasonably required or, if the potential winner is a minor, must have his or her parent or legal guardian sign and return, within a specified time period, any such paperwork. The Sponsors may require any winner’s guest to sign and return, within any designated time period, a release of liability and consent to publicity form and any other documentation as reasonably required, as a pre-condition to participation in the prize. In the event any guest is a minor, the parent or legal guardian of the guest will be required to sign and return such paperwork on behalf of the minor guest;
  • may be required to provide proof of identification to confirm eligibility or to claim a prize, or provide proof that he or she is the authorized account holder of any account associated with the selected entry.

 

  1. WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF WINNING a prize?

 

The odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.

 

  1. how do i claim a prize?

 

Once a potential winner is confirmed as a winner, prize distribution will be promptly coordinated.

 

Except as otherwise indicated by the Sponsors, a winner must personally take delivery of the prize as instructed within thirty (30) days of being notified that such prize is available or within such other time period as may reasonably be advised.

 

If a winner fails to take delivery of the prize as instructed, the prize will be deemed forfeited.

 

  1. WILL I APPEAR IN ANY PUBLICITY IF I AM A WINNER?

 

If you are a winner, the Sponsors may require you to appear in publicity related to the Contest or to any similar contest.

 

By accepting a prize:

  • you grant to the Sponsors the irrevocable right to record, photograph or otherwise capture or document you, your likeness, your voice, or any statements you make regarding the Contest or the prize, by any available means;
  • you agree that any such captured material, together with your biographical information, such as name or place of residence, or your Entry Material (collectively, all such materials, the “Publicity Material”) may be used by the Sponsors or their licensees, successors, or assigns (collectively, the “Publicity Parties”) in any media, whether now known or later devised, worldwide and in perpetuity, for advertising or promotional purposes related to the Contest or any similar contest. Any such use of the Publicity Material may include the reproduction, modification, adaptation, translation or creation of derivative works from your Entry Material;
  • you acknowledge that the Publicity Parties shall not be required to compensate you, notify you, or request your permission in connection with their use of any Publicity Material, unless otherwise prohibited by law; and
  • you waive any rights that you may have or that may otherwise exist in connection with any use of the Publicity Material by any of the Publicity Parties, including any moral rights in any such Publicity Material.

 

  1. HOW will MY PERSONAL INFORMATION be COLLECTED, USED AND DISCLOSED?

 

By entering the Contest, you consent to Rogers’ collection, use and disclosure of your personal information in accordance with the Privacy Policy, available at www.rogers.com/web/content/Commitment-to-Privacy (the “Rogers Privacy Policy”), for purposes of administering the Contest as described in these Official Rules.

 

Over the course of participating in the Contest, you may be given the option to receive commercial emails or other communications of a commercial nature (collectively, “Commercial Communications”) from the Sponsors or other parties.  Should you elect to receive Commercial Communications from Rogers, your personal information will be used by Rogers to that end, in accordance with the Rogers Privacy Policy.

 

Your personal information may be disclosed to a third party in the following circumstances:

  • in accordance with these Official Rules, or with your consent, or as otherwise permitted or required by law.
  • if you elect to receive Commercial Communications from a party other than Rogers, Rogers will disclose your personal information to that other party for that purpose;
  • if you are a potential prize winner, Rogers may disclose your personal information to any prize supplier for purposes of prize fulfillment; and
  • if you have been asked to sign and return a release of liability and consent to publicity form or other documentation in accordance with the terms of these Official Rules, Rogers may disclose your personal information to any interested party, such as an entity who is released from liability.

 

ROGERS’ DISCLOSURE OF YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION TO ANOTHER PARTY WILL CAUSE YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION TO BE SUBJECT TO THAT PARTY’S PRIVACY POLICY AND PRACTICES. 

 

  1. how DO the releasees LIMIT THEIR LIABILITY?

 

The Releasees assume no liability for the following:

  • stolen, late, incomplete, illegible, inaccurate, misdirected, lost, misrouted, scrambled, damaged, delayed, undelivered, mutilated, jumbled, or garbled entries, transmissions, email, mail, or other communications;
  • any error, omission, interruption, defect or delay in transmission, processing, or communication;
  • failures or malfunctions of, or difficulties with, computer hardware or software, telephones, telephone lines, telephone systems, or network, cable, satellite, server, or website connections;
  • printing, typographical, or other errors appearing within these Official Rules, in any Contest-related advertisements, or in Contest-related materials;
  • incorrect or inaccurate information, including where caused by website users, tampering, hacking, or by any equipment or programming associated or used in connection with the Contest;
  • injury or damage to any computer or other device resulting from or otherwise related to participation in the Contest, the use of any website, or the downloading or accessing of any materials;
  • anyone being incorrectly or mistakenly identified as a winner or potential winner; or
  • any other errors, problems or difficulties of any kind, whether human, mechanical, electronic, or otherwise, relating in any way to the Contest, including those errors, problems or difficulties that may relate to the administration of the Contest, the processing of entries, the advertising of the Contest, the announcement of any prize or prize winner, or the cancellation or postponement of any event.

 

  1. What laws apply to the contest?

 

The laws of the province or territory in which you reside apply to the Contest.

 

Any attempt to undermine the legitimate operation of the Contest may be a violation of criminal or civil laws.  Should any such attempt be made, the Sponsors reserve the right to seek remedies and damages to the fullest extent permitted by law.

 

  1. CAN THE SPONSORS CANCEL OR AMEND THE CONTEST?

 

The Sponsors may cancel, modify, or suspend the Contest or amend these Official Rules for any reason whatsoever, subject to prior approval by the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux, if legally required.  For example, if for any reason the Contest is not capable of running as originally planned, the Sponsors may adjust any of the dates, timeframes or other Contest mechanics, or suspend or cancel the Contest.

 

You may not amend these Official Rules in any way.

 

  1. would the Sponsors ever DISQUALIFY or ban someone from a contest?

 

The Sponsors may disqualify without notice or ban someone from the Contest or any future contest for any other reason, including if the Sponsors find that a person has:

  • resold or attempted to resell a prize, in whole or in part;
  • tampered with or attempted to tamper with, or undermined or attempted to undermine, the legitimate operation of the Contest;
  • provided false or misleading information;
  • acted in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with the intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person; or
  • otherwise violated these Official Rules.

 

  1. What HAPPENS if these official rules contradict other contest materials?

 

In the event of any discrepancy or inconsistency between these Official Rules and disclosures or statements made by the Sponsors or appearing in other Contest-related materials, these Official Rules shall govern.

 

  1. What HAPPENS IF PART OF THESE OFFICIAL RULES BECOMES UNENFORCEABLE OR DOES NOT APPLY?

 

If any part of these Official Rules is legally unenforceable or inapplicable, then that part will be deemed invalid; however, the remainder of these Official Rules will otherwise continue to be legally binding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toronto Board of Health votes in favour of tougher vaping regulations

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Dec 10th, 2019

The Toronto Board of Health voted unanimously Monday in support of last week’s report from the medical officer of health that recommended stricter rules for vaping.

The report recommends the provincial and federal government amend the Smoke-Free Ontario Act to bring vape products closer in line to the strict regulations facing tobacco products.

Some of the recommendations call for a ban on all flavoured vaping products and advertisements from shops that are accessible to minors, such as gas stations and convenience stores. However, they would still be allowed in specialty vape shops.

The board also calls for limits on nicotine levels.

This decision comes as mounting evidence shows more young people are picking up the habit that has been linked to lung diseases.

“The more we learn, the worse it gets and we discover that in no way is vaping benign. In fact, there are immediate harmful short-term effects that we’re seeing around the world,” board member Coun. Joe Cressy said at Monday’s meeting.

This decision now opens the doors for the city to follow in the footsteps of Brampton and Mississauga, which have banned vaping in outdoor public spaces.

Freeland heads to Mexico in effort to finalize new NAFTA revisions

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Dec 10th, 2019

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is to meet American and Mexican officials in Mexico City on Tuesday amid reports a deal to revise the new North American free-trade agreement is close to completion.

The federal government revealed Freeland’s itinerary late Monday following a day of furious speculation about the state of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade deal – and concerns from Canada’s aluminum sector about what the agreement could mean for the industry and workers.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump talked directly about the deal Monday, Trudeau’s office reported, without details.

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement was signed by the three countries last year, but U.S. ratification has been stalled for months as congressional Democrats and organized labour have bickered with Mexico over labour rights as well as the agreement’s treatment of steel and aluminum.

There were concerns the agreement, which aims to update the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, would not be approved before Congress disperses until 2020 and its focus shifts to next fall’s presidential election.

Freeland was cautious Monday amid chatter of an imminent deal.

“In the lives of ordinary Canadians, there is perhaps no issue in our relationship with the United States that matters more than trade,” she said in question period.

“The prime minister raised the ratification of the new NAFTA and other trade issues in his meeting last week with the president and we have been working intensively, including many conversations over the weekend and this morning with our American partners, on getting the deal finalized.”

Trump weighed in Monday, saying: “I’m hearing very good things, including from unions and others that it’s looking good. I hope they put it up to a vote, and if they put it up to a vote, it’s going to pass.

“I’m hearing a lot of strides have been made over the last 24 hours, with unions and others.”

The breakthrough appears to have followed Mexico accepting – with a five-year phase-in period – a U.S. demand to tighten the definition of North American steel in a section of the agreement dealing with where cars and their parts can be said to originate.

Products that officially originate in North America get more favourable treatment than ones that originate abroad but come through one of the countries in the agreement.

However, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said his country would not accept the same tighter definition for aluminum because the raw materials are not produced in Mexico.

Mexico also rejected U.S. demands for American inspectors to be sent in to ensure Mexican auto workers are being paid $16 per hour on average, though U.S. officials were said to have accepted Mexico’s offer to allow dispute-resolution panels to review labour-law compliance.

Labour unions in the U.S. were to be briefed on the proposed amendments on Monday with the hope they would agree to the changes, which would pave the way for the Democratic leaders to offer their own approval.

The Trump administration as well as the Canadian and Mexican governments would then be asked to agree formally to the amended deal before introducing legislation to put it into force.

Details of the amendments had yet to be communicated to Canadian industry and labour groups Monday, but those representing the aluminum sector and its workers were upset the deal may not include a tighter definition on what constitutes North American aluminum.

“We’re certainly not happy with this at all because it simply means Mexico wants to keep an open door to foreign metal coming in from China, from the Middle East, from India,” said Aluminum Association of Canada president Jean Simard.

Noting the industry was battered by U.S. tariffs last year, Simard added: “Canada has taken the case of aluminum as much as steel up to now and we certainly expect Minister Freeland and the Canadian government to hold their position on this like they’ve been doing up to now.”

Ken Neumann, national director in Canada of the United Steelworkers union, which represents employees in both the aluminum and steel industries, was also critical of Mexico’s demand for a five-year phase-in period for tightening the definition of North American steel.

“We strongly would anticipate or hope that our government is going to stand up for our aluminum workers,” he said.

“So we’re going to keep our fingers crossed. We’re going to consult with the government of Canada to make sure they’re going to stand up for what’s right for the steel industry and for our aluminum workers.”

Neumann and other members of the United Steelworkers’ leadership team in Canada were scheduled to fly to the U.S. to be briefed Tuesday on details of the proposed amendments.

“At this stage of the game, all eyes are on where organized labour is on Mexico’s newest proposals,” said Dan Ujczo, an Ohio-based trade lawyer with law firm Dickinson Wright and an expert in Canada-U.S. trade. “If they agree, it’s likely House (of Representatives) Democrats will sign off on this.”

Yet while there is a chance that legislation could be introduced this week and passed by Congress before Dec. 20 to bring the deal into force, Ujczo warned there still could be unexpected hurdles.

“Nobody has seen the implementing bill soup-to-nuts,” he said. “So we’re closing Phase 1 of the deal process, then we’re on to Phase 2, which will be we’ll all have to take a look at the implementing bill.”

The new trade pact would replace NAFTA, which came into force in 1994 and eliminated most tariffs and other trade barriers involving the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Critics, including Trump, labour unions and many Democratic lawmakers, branded NAFTA a job-killer for America because it encouraged factories to move south of the border, capitalize on low-wage Mexican workers and ship products back to the U.S. duty-free.

Mexico ratified the new North American deal in June while the Canadian government has said it is waiting to ratify the agreement at the same time as the United States.

Ontario elementary teachers’ union to ramp up work-to-rule campaign today

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Dec 10th, 2019

Ontario’s public elementary teachers will ramp up their work-to-rule campaign today as they continue contract talks with the government.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario says educators will not plan any new field trips or distribute letters or memos from schools and boards.

The union says it is introducing the new phase of its job action to increase pressure on the government because of the slow pace of negotiations.

Meanwhile, the union representing the province’s public high school teachers is planning a one-day strike in nine school boards on Wednesday.

That job action follows a province-wide strike last week that shuttered every public high school and some elementary schools.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce has called on the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers’ Federation to enter third-party mediation in a bid to reach an agreement.

On Monday, the province’s Financial Accountability Officer said if the province were to follow through on its original plan to increase the average high school class size to 28 students from the current 22, it would save $900 million a year.

The government has since changed that proposal, saying it will instead increase the average number of students in secondary school classes to 25. The fiscal watchdog has not estimated how much that amended proposal would save the government.

Teachers have said any increase in class sizes will compromise the quality of the education system, and the OSSTF is pushing back against the proposed changes in bargaining.

Lecce said Monday he would not comment on the potential savings that would be achieved by increasing class sizes.

“We’ve always been clear that this is not driven by a fiscal exercise,” he said. “We’re on track to spend an additional $1.2 billion this year, and we’ve added more money each and every year in budgets.”

2 found dead in Brampton home, woman’s death ruled homicide

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Dec 10th, 2019

Peel police’s Homicide Unit is investigating the death of a 27-year-old woman at a home in Brampton.

Officers were called to the scene in the area of Eagleridge Drive and Bighorn Crescent around 2 p.m. Monday.

A female victim was found dead inside the home and her death has been ruled a homicide. She has not been identified at this time.

A 35-year-old man was also found dead inside the residence. Police say the circumstances surrounding his death and the investigation is still ongoing.

Investigators say they are not seeking any further suspects.

Anyone with information related to the incident is asked to contact police.

5 dead, others missing after volcano erupts in New Zealand

Nick Perry, The Associated Press | posted Monday, Dec 9th, 2019

A volcanic island in New Zealand erupted Monday in a tower of ash and steam while dozens of tourists were exploring the moon-like surface, killing five people and leaving many more missing.

Police said the site was still too dangerous hours later for rescuers to search for the missing.

Police Deputy Commissioner John Tims said the number of missing was in the double digits but he couldn’t confirm an exact number. He said there were fewer than 50 people on the island when it erupted and 23 had been taken off, including the five dead.

Tims said experts had told them the island remained unstable but search and rescue teams wanted to get back as quickly as they could. He said there had been no contact with any of those who were missing.

He said both New Zealanders and overseas tourists were among those who were dead, missing or injured. He said most of the 18 who survived were injured and some had suffered severe burns.

Some of those involved were tourists from the Royal Caribbean International cruise ship Ovation of the Seas.

“A number of our guests were touring the island today,” the company said. “We will offer all possible assistance to our guests and local authorities. Please keep all those affected in your prayers.”

The cruise ship, which had left from Sydney last week, was scheduled to sail to the capital Wellington on Monday night but the company said it would instead remain in the Tauranga port overnight until it learned more on the situation.

“My god,” wrote Michael Schade on Twitter as he posted video of the eruption. “My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable.”

His video showed a wall of ash and steam around the island and a helicopter badly damaged and covered in ash. He said one woman was badly injured but seemed “strong” by the end.

White Island sits about 50 kilometres offshore from mainland New Zealand. Already people are questioning why tourists were still able to visit the island after scientists recently noted an uptick in volcanic activity.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern travelled to the region late Monday. She said the incident was “very significant.”

“All our thoughts are with those affected,” she said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he’d offered Ardern his support.

“Australians have been caught up in this terrible event and we are working to determine their wellbeing,” Morrison wrote on Twitter.

Brad Scott, a volcanologist with research group GNS Science, said the eruption sent a plume of steam and ash about 12,000 feet into the air. He said it had also affected the whole of the White Island crater floor.

The GeoNet agency, which monitors volcanoes and earthquakes in New Zealand, raised the alert level on White Island from one to two on Nov. 18, noting an increase in the amount of sulfur dioxide gas, which originates from magma deep in the volcano. It also said at the time that over the previous weeks, the volcanic tremor had increased from weak to moderate strength.

Scott said the alert level was often raised and then later dropped again without any eruption. He said there hadn’t been any major incidents with tourists visiting the island in the past, although there had been some close calls.

Scott said it was not for him to say whether the island was safe enough to host tourists immediately before Monday’s eruption.

Ardern said the focus remained on the search and rescue mission for now and questions about whether tourists should be visiting would be addressed later.

GeoNet at first raised its alert level to four, on a scale where five represents a major eruption. It later dropped the alert level back down to three. Scott said that was because the eruption wasn’t sustained beyond the initial blast.

“In the scheme of things, for volcanic eruptions, it is not large,” said Ken Gledhill from GeoNet. “But if you were close to that, it is not good.”

White Island is northeast of the town of Tauranga on North Island, one of New Zealand’s two main islands. Experts say it’s New Zealand’s most active cone volcano and about 70% of the volcano lies under the sea.

Twelve people were killed on the island in 1914 when it was being mined for sulfur. Part of a crater wall collapsed and a landslide destroyed the miners’ village and the mine itself.

The remains of buildings from another mining enterprise in the 1920s are now a tourist attraction, according to GeoNet. The island became a private scenic reserve in 1953, and daily tours allow more than 10,000 people to visit the volcano every year.

The island is also known by the indigenous Maori name Whakaari.

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