A blob of hot volcanic lava struck an ocean tour boat just off the Big Island of Hawaii on Monday, injuring almost two dozen people in the worst casualty incident to date from the ongoing eruption of the Kilauea Volcano, authorities said.
If the lava flow stays active, the island will probably connect to the coastline, USGS said.
Lava flows that have been cascading into the sea have formed a brand new, small island off the coast of Hawaii after a crater at Mount Kilauea exploded with the force of a 5.2-magnitude quake.
Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources said an investigation was underway, and would examine initial reports that the tour boat had strayed outside the US Coast Guard-established safety zone.
Snyder said neither the exact location of the incident nor the total number of passengers aboard the boat were immediately known.
Kilauea's fissure 8 continues to erupt, sending lava toward the ocean.
The boat is one of two owned by Lava Ocean Tours, a company whose website promises adventure seekers that they can "See, Hear & Feel the heat from your front row seat". The other passengers suffered burns and scrapes. It prohibits vessels from getting closer than 300 metere from ocean-entry points.
Officials have warned of the dangers of toxic fumes, created when molten rock hits the sea and forms hazardous clouds containing hydrochloric acid and glass particles.
"As we were exiting the zone, all of a sudden everything around us exploded", Turpin told The Associated Press.
The agency allows experienced boat operators to apply for a special licence to get up to 50 metres from where lava sizzles into the sea.
Kilauea Volcano pictured in June.
"[Four] passengers taken by ambulance to the hospital, one seriously injured with a fractured femur". Hundreds more homes have been swallowed closer to the eruption site itself.
He said most of the injuries were minor, but that he had just visited one woman who sustained serious injuries in the hospital.