The number of tour boat passengers injured by a volcanic explosion near the lava ocean entry point this morning has increased to 22, according to the Hawaii County Fire Department.
Fire department officials said a “lava bomb” reportedly punctured the roof of the tour boat during an early-morning boat ride, causing a large hole.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources initially said a Lava Ocean Tours Inc. vessel was outside of the 300-meter (984-foot) safety zone established by the Coast Guard at the time of the lava explosion. The fire department, however, reported the tour boat “Hot Spot” arrived at the lava entry point about 500 yards offshore and proceeded to get closer until it was about 200 yards from the shoreline.
The boat then turned out to sea when “an explosion occurred near the shoreline hurling hot lava rocks towards the boat and injuring several passengers,” fire department officials said.
The boat returned to Wailoa Harbor at about 7 a.m. today where medics and firefighters responded.
An ambulance transported three people to Hilo Medical Center. Two of the three passengers were in stable condition and one woman, described to be in her 20s, is in serious condition with a fractured femur.
The fire department said nine passengers drove themselves to the hospital and medics treated 10 people at the scene for minor burns and abrasions.
In addition to the punctured roof, the boat sustained damage to one of the railings.
The Coast Guard and the DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement are investigating.
A large volume of lava from Fissure 8 in the lower East Rift Zone continues to enter the ocean at Kapoho since the May 3 eruption.