A lava bomb sent lava flying into a tour boat on Hawaii’s Big Island on Monday, injuring at least 23 people, explained Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources.
According to the Hawaii County Fire Department, a woman in her 20s was seriously injured with a broken thigh bone, and numerous others suffered non-life-threatening scrapes and burns.
A boat operating as part of Hawaii Lava Ocean Tours was taking passengers to see molten lava plunging into the ocean flowing from the Kilauea volcano.
According to Jason Ridoula, Assistant Enforcement Chief of DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, tour boats are mandated to stay at least 300 meters away from where the lava flows into the ocean. When asked in a press conference if the operator was given special permissions to get closer to the lava flow, Ridoula said officials remained unaware of any special concessions and that an investigation was currently underway.
“What we do know is due to a volcanic explosive event, hot molten lava was hurled upon the vessel,” said Ridoula. “We don’t know if it was a single event or multiple.”
In May, the U.S. Coast Guard instituted the 300-meter “safety zone,” and according to a DLNR Facebook post, the vessel was outside of that zone. The lava bomb, explained the post, came through the roof of the boat, and also damaged a railing.
One witness told CNN that when the boat returned it was covered in rocks, and one person was taken out on a stretcher.