Babb said the current volume of lava flowing out of fissure 8 is much higher, at about 50 to 100 cubic meters per second, compared to the '61g flow, ' where lava from Puu Oo pumped out about three to four cubic meters per second.
A woman in her 20s is in a serious condition with a broken thigh bone, the Hawaii County Fire Department said.
Despite the alarming events of Monday morning, an employee told NPR, that the company's owner and boat captain, Shane Turpin, had continued to lead other tours throughout the day. Video posted by reporters on social media showed a large explosion of lava into the air. In this case, the rock that slammed into the tour boat was the size of a basketball.
Passengers were injured where the established lava flow entered the ocean, triggering an explosion. "See, Hear & Feel the heat from your front row seat onboard one of our world class catamarans". But with timely evacuations and public attention, few have been injured seriously.
PHOTOS: Hawaiian Lava Boat Tours boat in Hilo after littoral explosion that injured multiple people.
A 20-year-old woman suffered major leg trauma, and other passengers had burns and scrapes, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said. But until now, the only serious injury was to a man who was hit by flying lava that broke his leg. Officials were interviewing injured passengers at a hospital. The lava punctured the boat's roof, leaving a gaping hole, firefighters said.
The "littoral explosion" hurled hot lava rocks toward a boat, with "at least one being quite strong", according to the USGS.
The lava tour boat returned to Wailoa Harbor in Hilo and docked near Suisan around 7 AM. It prohibits vessels from getting closer than 984 feet from ocean-entry points. The U.S. Coast Guard also said in a press release that the safety zone now stands at 300 meters, of 984 feet, from an ocean entry, with no exclusions. More information will be released as it becomes available.
According to the Hawaii County Fire Department, the incident occurred early Monday morning.
Lava sends up clouds of steam and toxic gases as it enters the Pacific Ocean as Kilauea Volcano erupts.
'As we were exiting the zone, all of a sudden everything around us exploded, ' he said.
Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanoes, and its eruption has destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands to evacuate.