At least 22 people were injured when the lava hit the boat, which carried 52 people in total. One of the tourists’ injuries were classed as severe. Ten people were treated on-the-spot when the boat arrived back to Wailoa Harbor, while the rest were sent to hospital.
While the tourists who ventured on the risky trip were probably not looking forward to being showered with lava, the company which organized the voyage had promised a “life-changing experience.”
“Lava Ocean Tours Big Island lava boat tours are an exciting way to experience the molten hot lava entering the sea. See, Hear & Feel the heat from your front-row seat on board one of our world class catamarans,” it said on its website.
A lava bomb is a natural phenomenon that occurs when hot flows of lava mixes with cold ocean waters, with the resulting reaction triggering an explosion.
Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources released a statement saying that initial reports indicate the boat had been sailing “outside the U.S. Coast Guard-established safety zone” at the moment it was bombarded by the lava.
The Coast Guard, meanwhile, has reminded all vessels of the importance of abiding by the 300-meter (984 feet) safety zone, established around all lava entry points. Those who approach without receiving prior approval from the Coast Guard to access the designated zone may face criminal and civil charges.
Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano has been erupting for over two months, sparking evacuations and even forming new islands.
A crater’s explosion on Friday destroyed hundreds of homes on the Big Island, with lava flows entering the ocean. As the hot masses cooled down, they revealed a new small island estimated to be about 20 to 30 feet in diameter.