JULY 17, 2018 — The Coast Guard yesterday responded to a report of 12 people injured aboard a lava tour boat in Kapoho Bay, Big Island Monday.
At approximately 6 a.m., Sector Honolulu watchstanders received an initial report from 911 of three crewmembers and three sightseers injured in an incident that occurred near a lava flow in Kapoho Bay aboard the tour boat Hot Shot.
The vessel returned to Hilo harbor where awaiting emergency medical services were on standby to receive the injured. Upon arrival in Hilo, that number was revised to 12 total injured, three seriously and nine minor. The injuries reportedly range in severity with the worst being a broken leg.
Subsequently, Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency posted this update on its Facebook page:
Early Monday morning, 23 passengers on a lava tour boat were injured when an explosion at the ocean entry hurled lava bombs and debris onto their boat. Of the injured, 4 were taken by ambulance, one seriously injured with a fractured femur. Most of the injured passengers had superficial injuries and were treated on arrival at Wailoa Harbor in Hilo.
A basketball-sized lava bomb punctured the vessel’s roof, and explosion debris littered the floor of the boat.
In response to increased lava activity in the area, the Coast Guard established a temporary safety zone March 2017. That zone was made permanent in May 2018 following a notice of proposed rulemaking. The zone was set with significant input and consultation from experts with the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and date from the University of Hawaii at Hilo Marine Science Department.
The safety zone surrounds the lava flow and extends out 300-meters, although certain commercial and research vessels with licensed captains demonstrating experience operating in the region and carrying all required safety equipment were given special permission to approach up to 50 meters. Tour vessels are known to operate the area going back at least 20 years.
Here’s how CBS reported the story this morning