Twelve People Injured by Flying Lava Aboard Kilauea Volcano Tour Boat

FILE PHOTO: People watch from a tour boat as lava flows into the Pacific Ocean in the Kapoho area, east of Pahoa, during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester/File Photo

A dozen people were injured on Monday when the tour boat they were on was struck by flying lava from the Kilauea volcano on Big Island of Hawaii.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it received a report of 12 people injured aboard a lava tour boat off Kapoho Bay, HI, where lava from the erupting Kilauea Volcano has been entering the ocean in recent months. 

The Coast Guard reported that at approximately 6 a.m., its Sector Honolulu watchstanders received an initial report from 911 of three crewmembers and three sightseers injured aboard the tour boat Hot Shot near a lava flow in Kapoho Bay.

Hawaii County Fire Department reported initially that a lava bomb had injured 23 aboard the boat. The lava punctured the boat’s roof and it returned to Wailoa Harbor in Hilo, the fire department said.

Upon arrival in Hilo, the number of injured was revised to 12 total injured, three seriously and nine minor, the Coast Guard said. The injuries reportedly ranged in severity with the worst being a broken leg.

Photos posted online shows a large hole in the roof of the boat and debris (see Tweet below):

A hole, punched through the roof of a tourist boat, is seen, after lava from the Mount Kilauea volcano exploded in the sea off Kapoho, Hawaii, U.S. July 16, 2018. Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources/Handout via REUTERS

Due to increased volcanic activity, the U.S. Coast Guard in May established a permanent 300-meter safety zone around lava flows entering the ocean. However, under certain conditions, the Coast Guard said it has allowed certain commercial and research vessels with special permission to approach up to 50 meters.

The safety zone currently stands at 300-meters (984 feet) with no exclusions, the Coast Guard said Monday afternoon. 

In a Kilauea Volcano status update posted Monday, the USGS warned that flying debris from the “explosive interaction between lava and water” is the primary hazard near the flow’s ocean entry point. “Additionally, submarine magma-water interaction can result in explosive activity beyond the visible lava delta, creating a hazard that extends offshore,” the USGS said.

The update said that lava has continued to ooze out from fissures “at several points” on the 3.7-mile-wide flow front into the ocean. “Explosions were reported from the main ocean entry this morning with at least one being quite strong,” it said.

The Coast Guard said an investigator from Sector Honolulu is en route to investigate the incident.