Twenty-three people have been injured after a volcanic explosion caused molten rock to barrel through the roof of a tour boat in Hawaii. Visitor numbers spike each time Kilauea, which has erupted nearly continuously since 1983, sends a tongue of lava toward the ocean. Four passengers onboard the boat were taken by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center, according to the Hawaii County Fire Department. The remaining nine passengers drove themselves to the hospital, and the fire department said their injuries were superficial.
Lava Ocean Tours, whose website promised excursions allowing passengers to "see, hear and feel the heat" from lava flows entering the ocean, is the oldest of several tour boat companies operating in the region.
"As we were exiting the zone, all of a sudden everything around us exploded", he said. "It was everywhere", he said.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) says the tour boat involved in this incident is a Lava Ocean Tours vessel. The Coast Guard said tour vessels have operated in the area going back at least 20 years.
The U.S. Coast Guard in May instituted a safety zone where lava flows into the ocean off the Big Island. The volcano erupted in early May, destroying hundreds of homes and forcing thousands to evacuate. "And yes, it's now no longer an "island" thanks to the lava that's rejoined it with the flow front on land", the USGS said on Twitter in a reply to a question.
HAWAII'S Kilauea volcano has been erupting for more than two months and is showing no sign of slowing down.
Hawaii officials have updated the number of people injured after an explosion sent lava crashing through the roof of a tour boat off the Big Island, saying 23 were hurt. The interaction of lava with the ocean creates "laze", a corrosive seawater plume laden with hydrochloric acid and fine volcanic particles that drifts downwind and can irritate the skin, eyes and lungs. Previously, experienced operators such as Shane Turpin, captain of the boat hit in Monday's explosion, had to stay only 50 meters (164 feet) away.
In May its eruption entered a new phase when it began spurting lava through newly formed fissures in a residential neighbourhood.
The injuries were the first on a tour boat from flying lava in recent times, according to U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Amanda Levasseur.