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.

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.

#LeilaniEstatesEruption #KilaueaVolcano UPDATE (July 16 at 9 AM): Unbelievable footage from @IkaikaMarzo's crew on board the @KalapanaCulturalTours lava boat captures the lava explosion that sent lava bombs (lava rock and debris) flying into the air, which landed on a tour boat that was operated by Shane Turpin. The Hawaiʻi County Fire Department has just confirmed 12 passengers were injured. We are told three people were taken by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center. Two passengers (no details on gender or age) were in stable condition. One, a woman in her 20s, is in serious condition with a fractured femur. The remaining 9 passengers drove themselves to the hospital, and the Fire Department reported their injuries were not as serious. Hawaiʻi County Fire officials say a lava bomb punctured the roof of the boat, leaving a large hole. One of the railings of the boat was also damaged. The lava tour boat returned to Wailoa Harbor in Hilo and docked near Suisan around 7 AM. #HawaiiNewsNow has learned that the state Department of Land and Natural Resources is taking the lead on this investigation, which will involve the U.S. Coast Guard as well as the county. It's unclear how close Turpin's tour boat was to the Kapoho lava ocean entry when the explosion happened, but eyewitnesses report the boat appeared to be "very close". On July 11, the Coast Guard changed their mandatory safety perimeter zone around ocean entries (Kapoho and Kalea) from 100 meters to 50 meters for licensed lava tour boat operators. I spoke with #IkaikaMarzo, who says he was consulted about the change, but disagreed with it — saying he believed it was unnecessarily close. All other mariners, without explicit written permission from the Captain of the Port of Honolulu, are required to observe a mandatory 300 meter safety zone around all active lava entry point. Stay tuned to @HawaiiNewsNow for the very latest developments! As soon as I have more information, I’ll update you. #HInews #HawaiiNews #HNN #WeAreYourSource (Images courtesy @IkaikaMarzo)

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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.”

OCEAN LAVA EXPLOSION INJURES 23 PASSENGERS ON TOUR BOAT State and Federal Investigation Underway Twenty-three people on...

Posted by Hawaii DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources) on Monday, July 16, 2018

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.

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