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Royal Caribbean cruise details emerge

Ovation of the Seas passenger Sylvain Plasse was hiking down the side of Mount Maunganui in New Zealand during a port stop in Tauranga whenhe saw plumes of smoke rising off White Island. It must be industrial, he thought. 

Plasse, an actor from Toronto, then ran into a jogger at the base who told him it was a volcanic eruption. He thought it was his lucky day. He was witnessing a spectacular natural event.

But things quickly turned nightmarish. 

He returned to the Royal Caribbean ship to find out that there had been a tour to White Island that day.

“The excitement turned into horror,” he told USA TODAY.

Eighteen people were killed, including two whose bodies were washed out to sea and may never be found, authorities said Wednesday. Two teen brothers from Chicago were among the victims. More than two dozen had severe burns.

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