Volcanic lava 'bomb' injures 22 people on tour boat in Hawaii

HONOLULU, July 16 (Reuters) - A blob of hot volcanic lava struck an ocean tour boat just off the Big Island of Hawaii on Monday, injuring at least 22 people in the worst casualty incident to date from the ongoing eruption of the Kilauea Volcano, fire officials said.

One woman's leg was broken when the "lava bomb," which spattered out of the water with explosive force nearby as molten rock poured into the ocean, landed on the roof of the vessel and crashed into the seating area, said Hawaii County Fire Department Battalion Chief Darwin Okinaka.

The boat was able to return to its port in Hilo less than an hour later, and three of the injured were taken to a local hospital by ambulance, Okinaka said. At least nine others with less severe injuries were driven to the hospital by private vehicle, and 10 more people were treated by paramedics at the port, he told Reuters by telephone.

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Lava erupts on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 19, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava flows through trees on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 19, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava erupts on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 19, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava erupts on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Lava flows through forest on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Gas erupts from a lava flow on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava flows past trees on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava flows through forest on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava erupts on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 20: A lava fountain from a Kilauea volcano fissure erupts, while forming a new cone, on Hawaii's Big Island on May 20, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 19: Residents view lava erupting from a Kilauea volcano fissure, at a small viewing party on a neighbor's porch, on Hawaii's Big Island on May 19, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. Some local residents have held small viewing parties to view lava. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 19: A bird rests on a wire as lava from a Kilauea volcano fissure erupts on Hawaii's Big Island on May 19, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 19: Lava from a Kilauea volcano fissure flows on Hawaii's Big Island on May 19, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 19: A young resident keeps an eye on lava from a Kilauea volcano fissure erupting and flowing near her home on Hawaii's Big Island on May 19, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 18: A man takes a photo of a lava fountain from a Kilauea volcano fissure on Hawaii's Big Island on May 18, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 18: Lava erupts and flows from a Kilauea volcano fissure as trees burn on Hawaii's Big Island on May 18, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 18: Lava erupts and flows from a Kilauea volcano fissure on Hawaii's Big Island on May 18, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 18: Lava erupts and flows from a Kilauea volcano fissure on Hawaii's Big Island on May 18, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
KAPOHO, HI - MAY 18: Lava erupts and flows from a Kilauea volcano fissure on Hawaii's Big Island on May 18, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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State and local police and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources were investigating the incident, which occurred shortly after dawn near the eastern-most edge of the Big Island, where lava from the 10-week-old Kilauea eruption has been flowing into the Pacific since early June.

Two entire housing developments consisting of hundreds of dwellings were destroyed several weeks ago as lava spewing from a fissure on the slope of the volcano inundated the Kapoho area. Hundreds more homes have been swallowed closer to the eruption site itself.

The property losses marked the most destructive eruption of Kilauea in modern times, but no fatalities have been reported.

The most serious previous injury was of a man whose leg was shattered in May when he was hit by molten lava ejected by a volcanic fissure while he was standing on the third-floor balcony of his home about 200 yards (meters) from a flow in the Pahoa area.

(Reporting by Jolyn Rosa in Honolulu; Additional reporting and writing by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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