Hawaii Tourists Arrested for Trying to Take Selfies With Lava from Kilauea Volcano

Tourists in parks across Hawaii face fines of up to $5,000 and have been threatened with potential jail time for trying to get close-up pictures of fast-moving lava from the eruption of the Kilauea volcano.

At least forty tourists to Hawaii’s Big Island have been arrested since the May 3 eruption of Kilauea, the Department of Land and Natural Resources told Hawaii News Now. Most of the tourists, and even some full-time Hawaiian residents, were arrested on loitering charges as they tried snapping selfies and traditional photos of the lava flows bursting from the volcano. Hundreds of wire service photos show lava loiterers walking on hardened igneous rock to observe intense bursts of fire and gas from the lava streams.

Online arrest records show that some people were hit with trespassing citations for going around police barricades and forging through zones with dangerous gas emissions to snap photos of Madame Pele at work.

Officials from the Department of Land and Natural Resources cited a dozen arrests in the past 10 days alone, as a 100-foot wide river of lava emerged from a new fissure in the volcano. Lava has already covered more ground than it did during the last major eruption in 1955, according to the Hawaii Volcano Observatory. “Standing waves” of lava seen oozing from Kilauea have been flowing at speeds of 17 mph, far faster than the average human running speed of about five or six mph.

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SOURCE: Newsweek, Benjamin Fearnow