Hawaii lava tour boats faced tighter restrictions on Tuesday after 23 passengers were injured by a volcanic explosion, as authorities investigated whether a vessel hit by "lava bombs" went too close to molten rock oozing into the Ocean. Other tourists hurt suffered minor burns and other more superficial injuries, he said.
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.
Boaters and seaside residents also have been warned to avoid noxious clouds of laze - a term derived from the words "lava" and "haze" - formed when lava reacts with saltwater to form a mix of acid fumes and steam laced with tiny glass-like particles.
Viewing the lava that falls into the sea is a popular attraction in the islands but the Kilauea volcano has been very active in recent weeks. A lava bomb flew through the air and punctured the roof of the boat, leaving a large gaping hole in the vessel and damaging one of the boat's railings.
He didn't observe "any major explosions", so he navigated his vessel closer, to about 250 yards (228 meters) away from the lava. So far, more than 650 homes have been destroyed by lava, and molten rock now covers over 6,000 acres of land.
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The lava was moving fast enough to cover about six football fields an hour, according to US Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall.
Turpin, owner of Lava Ocean Tours, said he was well outside the zone at the time of the blast. Prior to the lava eruptions in the Lower East Rift Zone, tours left from the Pohoiki Boat Ramp, which is located about half a mile from where lava is entering the ocean.
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. 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. The Coast Guard said tour vessels have operated in lower Puna going back at least 20 years.
Officials are interviewing injured passengers at a hospital.
Lava from Hawaii's erupting Kilauea Volcano is exploding as it pours into the ocean, shooting rock fragments that are a danger to boaters.