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Hawaii: Flying lava shoots through roof of tour boat, injures 23

19 July 2018

One woman suffered a broken leg and others were burned when the blast sent rocks crashing through the boat's roof.

Tour boats offering a close-up look at lava pouring from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano into the Pacific Ocean returned to the waters off the Big Island on Tuesday under new safety rules, a day after 23 passengers were injured by ash and molten rock.

"Once we get the confirmation on that it will be released", she said by phone.

In response to increased lava activity in the area, the Coast Guard established a temporary safety zone March 2017. In early May, the island went on high alert after the volcano erupted.

Lava bomb rips through tour boat roof
Lava bomb rips through tour boat roof

Shane Turpin, the owner and captain of the vessel that was hit, said he never saw the explosion.

The agency said the island is just a few meters offshore, and about 20 to 30 feet in diameter.

He didn't observe "any major explosions", so he navigated his vessel closer, to about 250 yards from the lava.

The lava was moving fast enough to cover about six football fields an hour, according to US Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall.

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Explosions tend to happen much closer to the surface in such spots.

"It's most likely part of the fissure 8 flow that's entering the ocean-and possibly a submarine tumulus that built up underwater and emerged above sea level", the USGS said. The water flashes to steam, which causes the lava to explode into fragments, she said. Kilauea is sending to the sea as much as 26 times the amount of lava per second than it did during the 2016-17 eruption.

Officials have warned that getting too close to lava entering the ocean risks exposure to breathing in toxic fumes and even fine glass particles.

Kalapana Cultural Tours, which competes with Turpin's company, reported normal boat services and no cancellations. Despite the hazards, the tour boats have been operating near the volcano for more than 20 years, and will continue to do so. 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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Authorities are now investigating the incident but the people that were injured were hit by lava from the Kilauea volcano, the most active volcano in the islands.

The captain of one of the boats said suspending the tours would only hurt the local economy.

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Hawaii: Flying lava shoots through roof of tour boat, injures 23