Injured when lava bomb hits Hawaii tour boat

The new lava 'island' that's formed just offshore of the northern end of the ocean entry

Modal Trigger USGS

One was seriously injured with a fractured femur.

"The explosion looked like a enormous firework, right off the side of the boat", said passenger Kirk Olsen, who says the sightseeing boat was about 100 yards off the coast when a basketball-sized lava bomb crashed through the roof. All other passengers who went to the hospital were treated for minor scrapes and burns.

A basketball-sized lava bomb punctured the vessel's roof, and explosion debris littered the floor of the boat, said officials. A collapse explosion event, which is measured in natural disaster magnitude, caused an increase of activity from fissure 8 resulting in some channel overflows, USGS said.

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Officials say it can be risky to get close to lava entering the ocean, because clouds of acid and fine glass can be created as the transfer takes place.

Boat and helicopter tours are the only ways people are able to see Kilauea for themselves, as land access is restricted due to safety issues.

'As we were exiting the zone, all of a sudden everything around us exploded, ' he said. There haven't been any serious reported except for a man who broke his leg after being hit by flying lava.

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Up until Monday's injuries, the Coast Guard had set a limit of 50 meters, safety permitting, for experienced lava boat operators such as Shane Turpin, captain of the boat caught in Monday's explosion caused by lava mixing with seawater. This tour company also has permission to use the Wailoa harbor as its base of operation, after voluntarily relocating from the Pohoiki boat ramp which is about ½ mile from the active ocean entry now. The Coast Guard said tour vessels have operated in the area going back at least 20 years. "There was screaming... You'd look on the floor and there were hot lava rocks glowing", Olsen said.

Lava from Kilauea has been spewing for more than a month, forcing evacuations. At the time of writing, 706 structures - mostly homes - have been destroyed, and now 24 people have been injured in total.

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