At least 23 people were injured Monday morning after a lava explosion sent rocks and other debris flying into the air onto a tour boat in waters off the coast of Kapoho, according to Hawaii County officials.
A ‘basketball-sized’ lava bomb punctured the roof of the tour boat, which was carrying about 49 passengers while observing Kilauea’s Kapoho ocean entry point, leaving a large hole and seriously injuring at least one woman.
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The woman was later airlifted to the Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu for emergency treatment, family members tell Hawaii News Now. County officials say the woman, believed to be in her twenties, suffered a fractured femur.
The incident, according to a state Department of Land and Natural Resources spokesperson, is currently the subject of a multi-agency investigation that also involves the U.S. Coast Guard and Hawaii County police.
The investigation is still in it’s very early stages, the DLNR spokesperson said, noting that the agency would have no comment at this time on the investigation’s progress.
“It’s premature at this point to discuss what violations might be found out of this. The investigation is going to find out whether there were any violations of federal or state law,” said Jason Redulla, with the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.
U.S. Coast Guard crews responded at around 6 a.m. to reports that several crew members and passengers had been injured aboard a tour boat named ‘Hot Shot.’ The boat returned to Wailoa Harbor in Hilo with the injured passengers at around 7 a.m., county officials said.
Four passengers, including the woman who was later airlifted to Oahu, were taken by ambulance to the Hilo Medical Center. Other passengers suffered burns and scrapes, according to DLNR officials.
The lava explosion stems from ongoing eruptions from Kilauea that began May 3. Since then, more than 700 homes have been claimed and many communities rendered unrecognizable. And just a few days ago, lava from one of the most active fissures began forming a tiny island of lava off of Kapoho.
Meanwhile, a powerful magnitude 6 earthquake struck off one of the islands of the Republic of Vanuatu, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said, just days after the South Pacific nation was hit by another 6.1 quake.
There was no immediate tsunami warning or any reports of damage or casualties from the quake, which hit at a depth of 73 km (47 miles) about 474 km (295 miles) north of Vanuatu’s island of Santo, the USGS said.
The archipelago was hit by a tremor of similar magnitude on July 13.
On that occasion, people were seen running from buildings and items falling from shelves as a result of the quake.
Vanuatu is a volcanic island with 24 active and inactive volcanoes on its territory.
One of them, located on Ambae island, is currently threatening 10,000 people living on its foot, as the thick ash it has been spewing since it started its activity in September is killing crops, polluting water supplies and fouling the air.
The Pacific nation is preparing to permanently evacuate the entire population of the island.
People had already been temporarily moved when the volcano’s activity started in 2017.
Government spokesman Hilaire Bule said in May he expected the Council of Ministers to approve a relocation plan within weeks.
Mr Bule said the islanders would be offered residence on two neighbouring islands, adding this was not “an easy decision” to take.
Brad Scott, a New Zealand volcanologist with GNS Science who has been seconded to help Vanuatu authorities, said more than one quarter of Ambae has been severely impacted by the volcano’s activity, with many traditional thatch roofs collapsing under the weight of the thick ash.
The archipelago sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, the most geologically active area in the world.
More than 90 per cent of earthquakes occur in this area, which has also experienced 22 of the 25 biggest volcanic eruptions in history.
The Republic is particularly close to the British monarchy.
One of its tribes, the Kastom people, has been worshipping Prince Philip as a god since the 1950s, a cult strengthened by the official visit to Vanuatu in 1974 of Prince Philip and the Queen.
Members of the Prince Philip Movement believe the Queen’s husband is the man from one of their legends.
And in April, during Prince Charles’s week-long tour of Australia, the Prince of Wales was made the Republic’s honorary high chief.
On that occasion, Prince Charles took part to a series of traditional rituals, drinking from a cup of special kava, known as Royal Kava, before planting two trees on the island.
The last person who had consumed the special drink was the Duke of Edinburgh.
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July 17th, 2018