Three men from Kazakhstan were cited on Wednesday after being observed by three different law enforcement agencies, in the closed area of the Mauna Loa Forest Reserve on Hawai‘i Island.
It’s the latest in a series of incidents involving trespassers at the eruption site. In one case, a trespasser posted video of himself roasting marshmallows on the volcano.
Officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources say some of those who have posted video or photos on social platforms have received death threats.
The Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement is investigating incidents involving individuals and companies who have entered the closed area and posted images of themselves at lava flows to social media.
State officials say the area was closed shortly after the current eruption of Mauna Loa “to protect people from risk of injury or worse.”
The three foreign nationals that were cited yesterday included: Adibayev Axamat, 31; Daurem Sabit, 23; and Nurz Niyaz, 32. All three 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.
According to DLNR, the men were observed by a DOCARE officer trespassing at an active lava flow off of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road). The officer notified the Department of the Army Police who were assigned to the US Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area.
Subsequently, 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 under Hawai‘i Administrative Rules (HAR) 13-104-7.5
DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said, “The Mauna Loa Forest Reserve and active lava zone is closed for a reason. 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.”