Lava bomb hit tour boat operated by Hawaii company with history of lawsuits

Tourists hurt in lava explosion

PAHOA, Hawaii -- The U.S. Coast Guard will no longer allow tour boats to get within 1,000 feet of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, after an explosion left 23 people on a sightseeing boat hurt.

Tourists can be heard screaming in footage that captures the moment a huge explosion of molten rock and ash blasted hundreds of feet into the air and hit the boat called the Hot Spot. The Li family was among those who were hit.

"We were pelted with the rocks and it' embedded in your scalp and everything and the heat and the steam -- you could feel it," said Dawn Li.

Passengers said one "lava bomb" was the size of a basketball, smashing right through a metal roof. Christopher Li's leg was severely burned when he fell to the deck.

"I got covered in really hot rocks and I stayed there for maybe two seconds and got third-degree blistering burns on my legs," he said.

Kilauea has been erupting for more than two months, destroying 700 homes. At night, it's possible to see the orange glow from the eruption as lava makes its way down to the ocean.

The boat operators, Lava Ocean Tours, had a special permit to take tourists within 165 feet of the coast. But CBS News uncovered two lawsuits in the last five years which accused the company of "failing to warn passengers of dangerous conditions known to Lava Tours," and "dispensing with any kind risk assessment when selecting an area to view the volcanic eruption."

Those cases were settled. CBS News reached out to the company for comment, but did not hear back.