Hawaii tour boat hit by exploding lava bomb near Kilauea Volcano, 22 people injured

At least 22 people have been injured after a blob of hot lava burst through the roof of an ocean tour boat in Hawaii.

One woman's leg was broken when the ‘lava bomb,' which burst from the water near the boat as molten rock poured into the ocean, landed on the roof of the vessel.

It seared through the material
and crashed into the seating area, said Hawaii County Fire Department Battalion Chief Darwin Okinaka.

The incident tonight has caused the most casualties to date from the ongoing eruption of the Kilauea Volcano, fire officials said.

A woman in her 20s is in a serious condition with a broken thigh bone, the Hawaii County Fire Department said.
Lava 'bomb' strikes tour boat injuring 22 people near Kilauea Volcano

Three others were in stable condition at a hospital with unspecified injuries. The rest of the passengers suffered burns, scrapes and other superficial injuries.

They were aboard a tour boat that takes visitors to see lava plunging into the ocean from a long-erupting volcano that has been vigorously shooting lava from a new vent in the ground for the past two months. The lava punctured the boat's roof, leaving a gaping hole, firefighters said.

Shane Turpin, the owner and captain of the vessel that was hit, said he never saw the explosion that rained molten rocks down on top of his boat.

He and his tour group had been in the area for about 20 minutes making passes of the ocean entry about 500 yards offshore, Turpin said.

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

‘As we were exiting the zone, all of a sudden everything around us exploded,' he said. ‘It was everywhere.'

Turpin said he had no idea just how big the blast was until he saw video of the event later on shore.

‘It was immense,' he said. ‘I had no idea. We didn't see it.'

Turpin says that he has been observing and documenting these explosions and that this type of activity is new. There were no warning signs before the blast, he said.

‘There's something new. There's something really new,' he said. ‘And I've been documenting them a bit.'

Turpin has been navigating lava tour boats for many years and has lived on the Big Island since 1983.

He said most of the injuries were minor, but that he had just visited one woman who sustained serious injuries in the hospital.

‘They're unbelievable people,' he said of the woman and her family, who are visiting the island. ‘Just really good people.'

The others in the tour group quickly pulled together to help one another, Turpin said.

‘What I saw in humanity this morning was amazing. I mean this was a group of people that never met before, and they were brought together,' he said. ‘In all honesty, we definitely evaded a catastrophic event today.'

Officials have warned of the danger of getting close to lava entering the ocean, saying the interaction can create clouds of acid and fine glass.

Despite the hazards, several companies operate such tours. The Coast Guard said tour vessels have operated in the area going back at least 20 years.

The US Coast Guard in May instituted a safety zone where lava flows into the ocean off the Big Island. It prohibits vessels from getting closer than 300 metres from ocean-entry points.


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