Twenty-three injured on tour boat hit with lava explosion Monday (July 16)

Video which appears to have been taken by a passenger aboard the vessel hit by the lava explosion.

UPDATED BY DLNR (2:51 p.m. on 7/16/2018)

Lava Boat Incident News Conference-July 16, 2018 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Twenty-three people on a Lava Ocean Tours vessel were hurt shortly after 6 a.m. when what has been described as a “lava bomb” sent molten lava showering down on the metal roof of the vessel, leaving a significant hole in it. The Hawai‘i County Fire Department reports four people were transported by medics to the Hilo Medical Center by ambulance, nine others went to the hospital in private vehicles and ten people were treated on the scene for minor soft tissue injuries and burns. The most serious injury was a traumatic leg injury suffered by a 20-year-old woman. All other passengers who went to the hospital were treated for minor scrapes and burns.

After the explosion, the boat returned to its dock at the Wailoa Small Boat Harbor in Hilo, where it was met by emergency medical personnel, first responders, and officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement. DOCARE and the U.S. Coast Guard are investigating the incident and have no further comment on what happened until that probe is completed.

Anyone conducting commercial ocean tours of the active ocean entry at Kapoho is required to have a commercial use permit from the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR). The owner of the boat involved does have a current and valid permit. This tour company also has permission to use the Wailoa harbor as its base of operation, after voluntarily relocating from the Pohoiki boat ramp which is about ½ mile from the active ocean entry currently. Additionally, the U.S. Coast Guard established a permanent safety zone surrounding the entry of lava from the Kilauea volcano on the southeast side of Hawai‘i island. The safety zone encompasses all waters extending 300 meters (984 feet) around all ocean-entry points.

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “Clearly everyone is interested to learn what happened this morning. In the meantime, all of those injured today are very much in our thoughts for speedy and full recoveries.”

Another tour boat, operated by Hawaiian Lava Boat Tours, was off-shore when the explosion occurred. The video provided by Hawaiian Lava Boat Tours below shows a second explosion, a minute or so after the first one that damaged the Lava Ocean Tours vessel.

UPDATED BY DLNR (10 a.m. on 7/16/2018)

The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) reports 13 people were treated at the Hilo Medical Center after an incident on a lava tour boat early this morning. A 20-year-old woman has major leg trauma. The other passengers suffered burns and scrapes. DOCARE and other authorities are investigating this incident. DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “DLNR sends its wishes for full and speedy recovery to all of those involved.”


Tour boat damage from lava explosion off the Puna coast Monday, July 16, 2018. Photo courtesy of DLNR

Tour boat damage from lava explosion off the Puna coast Monday, July 16, 2018. Photo courtesy of DLNR

At least ten people on a Lava Ocean Tours vessel were injured this morning after an explosion sent lava through the roof of the boat’s passenger cabin. Other reports indicate as many as 12 passengers were hurt. Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) along with the Hawai‘i County Police Dept. are investigating the incident.

The tours depart from the Wailoa Small Boat Harbor in Hilo at 4 a.m. daily. Prior to the beginning of the East Rift Zone Eruption event, tours left from the Pohoiki Boat Ramp, which now is within ½ mile of the active ocean entrance.

DOCARE officers are now in the process of interviewing injured passengers at the Hilo Medical Center. In initial reporting passengers say the vessel was outside of the U.S. Coast Guard-established safety zone. Along with first responders both state and, county officers were at the Wailoa boat ramp when the boat returned after the incident. It’s reported one passenger has a broken leg and the others were burned, though the full extent of their injuries is not known at this time. More information will be released as it becomes available.

Video courtesy of Ikaika Marzo from Hawaiian Lava Boat Tours (Kalapana Cultural Tours) which was a few hundred yards away from the explosions.

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