3 visitors from Kazakhstan cited for hiking in closed area of Mauna Loa Forest Reserve
Three men from Kazakhstan were cited on Wednesday after being seen by three different law enforcement agencies, in the closed area of the Mauna Loa Forest Reserve.
Thirty-one-year-old Adibayev Axamat, 23-year-old Daurem Sabit and 32-year-old Nurz Niyaz were seen walking in the closed and active lava flow area off Daniel K. Inouye Highway by an officer with the Department of Army Police — assigned to the U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area — who then reported it to an officer with the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.
Mauna Loa has been erupting for over a week. The area the visitors were found walking in was closed shortly after the eruption began.
“The Mauna Loa Forest Reserve and active lava zone is closed for a reason,” said DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla. Eruptive activity can seriously injure or kill people. There are hidden dangers and when someone enters a closed area they are also putting first responders at risk if they’re called for help.”
An officer from the Hawai‘i police Department contacted the trio as they walked back to their car in the public viewing area. When the DOCARE officer arrived on scene he cited them for entering a closed area.
All three men are scheduled to appear in Hilo District Court on Jan. 20, 2023 on petty misdemeanor charges and could face fines up to $500 and/or jail time of 30 days.
DOCARE is also investigating people and companies who have entered the closed area and posted shots of themselves and lava flows on social media. Some of those who have posted their unlawful entry on social platforms are receiving death threats.