Hawaii officials say the explosion yesterday was caused by lava oozing into the ocean, which sent molten rock crashing through the roof of a tour boat just off Big Island. Three others were in stable condition at a hospital with unspecified injuries. The nine others who were injured drove themselves to the hospital with what the fire department calls "superficial" injuries.
Lava Ocean Tours, whose website promised excursions allowing passengers to "see, hear and feel the heat" from lava flows entering the ocean, is the oldest of several tour boat companies operating in the region.
Will Bryan posted video of the lava explosion to Facebook, describing it as footage of the Kilauea volcano "exploding into the boat we are on" during his Hawaiian vacation. "It was everywhere", he said. Despite the dangers, many companies continue to operate the vessels.
The volcano's eruption on Hawaii has been an ongoing emergency on the island since May, sending thousands of residents from their homes, destroying hundreds of structures, and captivating the world through arresting images showcasing the earth's raw destructive power. "There was screaming... You'd look on the floor and there were hot lava rocks glowing", Olsen said.
The Coast Guard stops vessels from getting close than 984 feet (300 metres) from where the volcano's lava seeps into the sea.
He added that after the boat was hit, those in the tour group quickly pulled together to help one another.
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Hawaii's continuously erupting Kīlauea has been pretty busy this week, creating short-lived islands and hurling lava bombs at unsuspecting tourists over the last few days.
According to fire officials on the Big Island, a "lava bomb" pierced the roof of a small tour boat and made a large hole in it.
An investigation was under way to determine the exact location of Turpin's vessel at the time of the blast, said U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Sara Muir.
In May its eruption entered a new phase when it began spurting lava through newly formed fissures in a residential neighbourhood. Government officials have also been warning about the dangers of laze, potentially unsafe mix of hydrochloric acid, steam and tiny glass particles in the air that results from the interaction of the lava and the water.
The boat was taking passengers to view the lava that falls into the sea.