Boy Dies After Fall in New Zealand Geothermal Pool

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- A boy has died in a New Zealand hospital after being scalded head to foot when he fell into a geothermal pool which could have been as hot as 212 degrees Fahrenheit, a hospital spokeswoman said late Thursday.

It was not clear immediately how the 8-year-old was burned while visiting Kuirau Park in the North Island city of Rotorua, which is known for its steaming geothermal geysers and hot mud and water pools.

Witness Anna Kare said the boy was screaming in agony as a teenager carried him to his parents after the accident, according to the New Zealand Herald newspaper.

"The boy was yelling 'my hands, my hands,' and I saw all the skin on his hands peeling off," Kare said. "I saw the burns were all the way from his head to his feet."

She said there was no mud on the boy so it was likely he had fallen into a hot water pool.

The accident, which happened on Sunday, was made public on Wednesday. The boy, whose name was not released, was initially taken to a local hospital but was later airlifted to Auckland.

Air ambulance pilot Grant Bremner said the boy was unconscious when he was transported.

"He was on a ventilator and on life support. He was severely burned," he said.

Later in the day, Middlemore Hospital spokeswoman Lauren Young said the child died from his "unsurvivable" injuries with his family present at his bedside.

The boy was of Pacific Island ethnicity and believed to be visiting New Zealand with his family.

Rotorua District Council parks and recreation manager Garry Page said that mud and water geothermal pools can reach 212 degrees Fahrenheit -- the boiling point of water. All pools in the park have safety fences and carry warning signs, and it was unclear how the boy fell into one.