Scratch that: Yesterday, a lava bomb - reportedly the size of a basketball, and one of several - careened into a tour boat visiting one of the lava ocean entry points yesterday, injuring a number of people. The remaining nine passengers drove themselves to the hospital, and the fire department said their injuries were superficial.
The explosion left a gaping hole in the roof of the tour boat, which had been taking visitors out to view lava plunging into the sea.
State and local police and the DLNR were investigating the incident, which occurred shortly after dawn near the eastern-most edge of the Big Island, where lava from the 10-week-old Kilauea eruption has been flowing into the Pacific since early June.
Kilauea has shown no signs of quieting since it first began erupting on May 3. The tour boat returned to the Wailoa Boat Harbor in Hilo around 7 a.m. with 12 injured passengers, according to the Hawaii County Fire Department. Hundreds of more homes have been swallowed closer to the eruption site.
FILE - In this May 20, 2018 file photo, people watch a plume of steam as lava enters the ocean near Pahoa, Hawaii. "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.
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Turpin has been navigating lava tour boats for many years and has lived on the Big Island since 1983.
The U.S. geological survey noted the blaze killed two people in 2000 when a lava flow reached the coast, saying even a wisp can irritate eyes and lungs and make it hard to breathe. However, certain commercial and research vessels with licensed captains demonstrating experience operating in the region and carrying all required safety equipment were given special permission to approach up to 50 meters.
Kilauea is sending as much as 26 times the amount of lava per second to the sea than it did during the 2016-17 eruption. The Coast Guard said tour vessels have operated in lower Puna going back at least 20 years.
Four passengers, including the woman who was later airlifted to Oahu, were taken by ambulance to the Hilo Medical Center.
There are now two active volcanoes in the state, including Kilauea which has been continuously erupting for 35 years.