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UPDATE: Police Say Foul Play Possible in Body Found Floating

Posted May 28, 2013, 10:37 AM HST Updated May 28, 2013, 05:28 PM HST
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Although it is not yet clear whether the latest incident was an accident, scientists frequently warn the public to be aware of the dangers associated with the lava's entry into the ocean. The person highlighted above in this USGS photo taken in mid-March was either ignorant of that advice or ignored it.

Police are investigating the death of a woman whose body was found floating this morning in the ocean near where lava from Kilauea volcano is entering the ocean in Kalapana.

Police and fire department units responded to a 6:26 a.m. report of a body caught in a fishing line cast from a boat near the lava-viewing area.

The crew of a lava-viewing tour boat called 911 and stayed on the scene until Hawaii Fire Department rescue personnel could respond to retrieve the body, Battalion Chief Warren Sumida said in a press release.

The department scrambled a rescue boat and Chopper 1 to the scene, Sumida said.

Police said the body is that of a Caucasian woman possibly in her late 20s or early 30s. She is from 5-foot-4 to 5-foot-8, with a slim build, short brown hair and a tattoo of “Veritas” on her lower back.

Police detectives are reviewing recent missing persons’ reports in an attempt to identify the woman.

Police said they have not ruled out foul play.

Anyone with information on the matter is asked to contact Det. Robert Almeida at 961-2386 or [email protected] or Det. Fetuutuunai Amuimuia at 961-2278 or [email protected]

The death comes less than two weeks after scientists at Hawaiian Volcano Observatory issued its latest warning to the public about the dangers of straying too close to the lava ocean entry.

Those dangers include unstable ground created at the shoreline by the mixture of lava and seawater. The resulting benches can fall away with little or no warning.

Other threats include scalding spray and the toxic steam plume generated at the site.

Prior to this latest incident, at least four four deaths were attributed to attempts by the public to get a closer look at lava entering the ocean.

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***Updated at 3:32 p.m. with additional information released by police and a correction about how the body was found. The information initially posted at 10:37 a.m. incorrectly said the body was found by the crew of the lava-viewing tour boat.***

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