Lava explosion came from behind boat

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KAPOHO, HI - MAY 18: Lava erupts and flows from a Kilauea volcano fissure on Hawaii's Big Island on May 18, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said the volcano erupted explosively on May 17 launching a plume about 30,000 feet into the sky. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) Courtesy Across Hawaii Patch

HONOLULU (AP) – The owner and captain of a boat that was hit by lava says he never saw the explosion that rained large chunks of hot rock down on top of his boat off the Big Island.

Shane Turpin said Monday that he and his tour group had spent 20 minutes about 500 yards offshore without seeing any major explosions from the site where Kilauea’s lava enters the ocean.

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He says he then navigated his vessel to about 250 yards from the lava.

He says the explosion came from behind as the ship was leaving the area. Officials say 23 people were injured, with one in serious condition.

Turpin says he has been observing and documenting explosions from the volcano and there were no warning signs before the blast that sent lava onto his boat.

Turpin says he has been navigating lava tour boats for years and has lived on the Big Island since 1983.

Kilauea has been erupting for decades, but new vents that opened in neighborhoods in May have destroyed more than 700 homes as the lava has flowed to the ocean.