Hawaii lava tour boats faced tighter restrictions on Tuesday after 23 passengers were injured by a volcanic explosion, as authorities investigated whether a vessel hit by "lava bombs" went too close to molten rock oozing into the Ocean.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) says the tour boat involved in this incident is a Lava Ocean Tours vessel.
One passenger broke a leg while others suffered burns.
But from where lava from the Kilauea volcano is hitting the ocean to the harbour is about an hour's boat ride, depending on waves. Government officials have also been warning about the dangers of laze, potentially risky mix of hydrochloric acid, steam and tiny glass particles in the air that results from the interaction of the lava and the water.
The U.S. Coast Guard in May instituted a safety zone where lava flows into the ocean off the Big Island.
Kilauea, the volcano on Hawaii's Big Island is now in a high-activity phase and attracting sightseeing tours. The safety zone now stands at 300-meters (984 feet) with no exclusions.
Lava edged towards a geothermal power plant on Tuesday after destroying an old warehouse near the facility, County of Hawaii Civil Defense said.
"This is the hottest lava that we've seen in this eruption, even just a matter of 50C makes a big difference in how quickly lava flows can move and how they behave once the magma exits the vent", Ms Stovall said. It's unclear how many people were on the boat or how close it was to the lava.
Kilauea is sending as much as 26 times the amount of lava per second to the sea than it did during the 2016-17 eruption.
The captain of one of the boats said suspending the tours would only hurt the local economy.
However, the volcano has been erupting continuously for the past 35 years and the Coast Guard said tour vessels have operated in the area for at least 20 years.
The boat was in Kapoho Bay, Big Island, when the flying piece of molten lava punctured her roof.
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.
In May its eruption entered a new phase when it began spurting lava through newly formed fissures in a residential neighbourhood.
Officials were interviewing injured passengers at a hospital.
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