A sightseeing boat cruising around the long-erupting volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island turned dangerous on Monday.
Officials say that 23 people on the Lava Ocean Tours were injured when a “lava bomb” soaring from the Kilauea volcano crashed through the vessel’s metal roof.
The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), the Hawai‘i County Police Department and the U.S. Coast Guard are investigating the incident together, the DLNR wrote on Facebook.
Pictures they posted show the aftermath of the crash, which occurred just after 6 a.m. local time. A massive hole was left in the boat’s roof, with black pieces of hardened lava covering its seats and floor. It quickly returned to the Wailoa Small Boat Harbor in Hilo after the lava bomb hit.
An unidentified woman in her 20s was seriously injured in the incident, suffering a traumatic leg injury, the Hawai‘i County Fire Department reported. She was transported along with three other people to the Hilo Medical Center by ambulance, where she is being treated. The three others are in stable condition with unspecified injuries.
All of the other passengers “suffered burns, scrapes and other superficial injuries,” the DLNR wrote. Most were treated on the scene but nine went to the hospital in private vehicles for their minor injuries.
“Clearly everyone is interested to learn what happened this morning,” DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said in a statement on Facebook. “In the meantime, all of those injured today are very much in our thoughts for speedy and full recoveries.”
Lava Ocean Tours are one of the many permitted commercial boat tours taking visitors to see the lava pouring out of Kilauea at its active ocean entry at Kapoho. The volcano has been erupting for the past 35 years, but new fissures formed in May, causing a sea of damage and terror for state residents. The United States Geological Survey said Kilauea was still shooting lava as of Monday.
Meanwhile, Shane Turpin, owner and captain of the Lava Ocean Tours’ boat that was hit, told the Associated Press that he had only been in the area for about 20 minutes before the lava bomb rained down from the sky.
“All of a sudden everything around us exploded,” he said, explaining he hadn’t seen “any major explosions” prior to impact. “It was everywhere.”
“It was immense,” added Turpin, who has lived on the island since 1983. “I had no idea. We didn’t see it.”