A projectile from the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii struck a boat carrying people watching lava from the two-month-old eruption, injuring 23, the fire department said.
Three people were taken to hospital, while the remaining nine passengers drove themselves to hospital with superficial injuries.
One woman's leg was broken when the "lava bomb", which spattered out of the water with explosive force as molten rock poured into the ocean, crashed through the roof of the boat into the vessel's seating area, said Hawaii County Fire Department Battalion Chief Darwin Okinaka.
Officials have warned that getting too close to lava entering the ocean risks exposure to breathing in toxic fumes and even fine glass particles.
The Coast Guard, DLNR and Hawaii Police Department are investigating the tour boat incident. Close to the ocean entry, flying debris from explosive interaction between lava and water is a primary hazard.
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The Hawaii County Fire Dept. says a railing on the tour boat was also damaged by the lava bomb. "There's a few big chunks that was on the roof and we could see chunks laying all over the side of the boat and on the floor of the boat", said Ikaika Kalama who witnessed the bombardment from the adjacent ferry boat.
Some 6,100 acres have been covered in lava according to the United States Geological Survey, including areas where homes once stood. It's unclear how many people were on the boat or how close it was to the lava. "And yes, it's now no longer an "island" thanks to the lava that's rejoined it with the flow front on land", the USGS said on Twitter in a reply to a question. Several companies operate such tours.
Captain Jones said an evening boat tour left for the ocean-entry site and it was business as usual.
In May its eruption entered a new phase when it began spurting lava through newly formed fissures in a residential neighbourhood. In fact, it's another testament to the scientists and authorities on the ground there that this has been the first recorded injury of the eruption since a man broke his leg in much the same manner - but on land - back in May.
Four passengers, including the woman who was later airlifted to Oahu, were taken by ambulance to the Hilo Medical Center.