(BIVN) – The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources held a press conference on Oahu Monday afternoon, following the ocean lava explosion that reportedly injured 23 people who were on board a boat tour.
Jason Redulla, DLNR’s Assistant Chief of the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, did most of the talking at the press conference, which was recorded by DLNR and published online.
DLNR also issued this updated media release:
(Honolulu) 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 are 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.
During the DLNR press conference, many questions pertaining to how close the permitted lava boat tours are allowed to get to the ocean entry were deferred to the U.S. Coast Guard, which was not present for the media event.
Earlier today, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a media release saying that the safety zone currently stands at 300-meters (984 feet) with no exclusions; no pre-approved tour boat operators are allowed to get any closer, as today.
The U.S Coast Guard had just reduced the restriction for pre-approved mariners (as of July 12, 2018) from the previous 100 meters to 50 meters, allowing certain state-permitted boat tours to get closer.