By Cailey Rizzo
July 17, 2018

A tour boat taking tourists to see the Kilauea Volcano lava flow was hit by a “lava bomb” on Monday, injuring 23 people.

A piece of molten rock the size of a basketball smashed through the roof of the sightseeing boat, also destroying one railing.

At least 23 injured after lava bomb hits boat tour in Hawaii, Hilo, USA - 16 Jul 2018
Credit: Hawaii DLNR/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX//Shutterstock

One passenger suffered a broken leg and others reported severe burns or scrapes. Four people went to the hospital by ambulance and nine were transported there by private vehicle, ABC News reported. Another 10 received medical care upon arrival at Wailoa Harbor.

Lava Ocean Tours was taking passengers out to see the flow from Kilauea Volcano, which has been erupting since May. “As we were exiting the zone, all of a sudden everything around us exploded,” Shane Turpin, the captain of the boat, told the Associated Press. “It was everywhere.”

"So as you're getting pelted with this lava there is nowhere to go,” Will Bryan, one of the passengers onboard, told the BBC. “You only have like 20 feet and everyone is trying to hide at the same spot. It was actually rather terrifying.”

It’s unclear how close the boat was to the eruption at the moment of impact. In May, the U.S. Coast Guard implemented a safety zone, prohibiting boats from getting less than 980 feet from the volcano’s ocean-entry points. But more experienced boat operators could apply for a special license to get up to 160 feet away from the lava.

Since its eruption, Kilauea has destroyed more than 700 homes in the area. The only other serious injury was a man whose leg was broken by flying lava.