Beware: Tourists Are Getting Arrested For Taking Risky Volcano Selfies In Hawaii

Jun 19, 2018

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More than 40 people have been arrested on Hawaii’s Big Island for violating no-entry zones designed to protect the public from the devastation wrought by the Kilauea volcano. Most of the culprits are tourists presumably trying to “do it for the ‘gram” and now face fines of up to $5,000 as well as potential jail time of up to one year as a consequence.

“I find there is a need to strengthen the enforcement tools available to county and state emergency management officials in controlling public access to dangerous areas and associated evacuation efforts as a result of the failure of the public to comply with instructions and orders issued by officials,” Hawaii Governor David Ige said.

Officials aren’t just being pedantic. The Kilauea volcano has gotten even more dangerous over the past month — at least for living organisms. The thick, viscous lava of the eruption’s early days has given way to even hotter, fast-flowing lava that travels at the speed of more than 200 yards per hour – an acceleration rate of almost 2,000%. The runny lava river now connects one of the volcano’s lower-east fissures to the ocean nine miles away. The lava poses a huge safety risk to humans not only because of its temperature, but because the chemicals in its composition frequently create explosive, toxic reactions upon contact with chemicals in air and water.

Lava from the natural disaster has already smothered more than 6,000 acres of land, evaporated Hawaii’s largest freshwater source and engulfed more than 500 homes, which may result in the first US insurance crisis of 2018 because volcano damage is not an insurance option for most Hawaiian homeowners. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) fears that it may take years for the eruption to subside.

No new airline waivers have been issued since our last Kilauea update on June 7.

This isn’t the first volcano to attract the attention of social media thrill-seekers. Last fall, a man drew global ire for posting a selfie at the crater of Bali’s Mount Agung, just hours before the eruption that forced hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists to evacuate.

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