VOLCANO, Hawaii (AP) - A woman's body was found on a lava field
near Kilauea Volcano early Tuesday morning in Hawaii Volcanoes
National Park, where hundreds of people have been flocking to view
the active lava flow, park officials said.
A hiker reported finding the woman's body around 7 a.m., and
park rangers and rescue crews from the Hawaii County Fire
Department found the woman lying motionless about a half mile north
of the ranger station at the end of Chain of Craters Road.
The cause of death was not immediately known, said park
spokeswoman Mardie Lane.
The woman, whose identity was unknown, was airlifted from the
lava field and taken to Hilo Medical Center for autopsy, Lane said.
She said the area was open to the public, about a 15 minute hike
over new lava flow from the ranger's station.
"Traveling there is certainly permissible, but there's no
marked trail," Lane said. "I don't really know what she might
have been doing out there.
"I heard there was some great viewing of lava flows coming down
the mountainside. You could see red lava a mile or more away," she
said. "That would have been an area of interest that would have
been visible from all along the Chain of Craters Road."
Lane said there were no unusual conditions reported in the area.
Visitors were hiking through the area on Tuesday, she said. Park
officials have warned that breathing the lava haze, or "laze,"
can aggravate existing heart and lung conditions.
"What it may have been like when she was down there, I don't
know," Lane said. "It can be warm down there, depending on wind
and other conditions, like opening an oven."
On Sept. 30, 2000, the body of 43-year-old Kirk A. Kiyota of
Brighton, Colo., was found in similar circumstances, about a mile
from the end of the road. He had died of an apparent heart attack,
park officials said.
"They always say swim with a friend," Lane said. "That goes
for hiking, too. It's always good to hike with a group of
friends."
Thousands of visitors have flocked to Kilauea since the current
breakout of lava began on Mother's Day, May 12. It first reached
the sea on July 19.
The woman's death is the first reported death in the park this
year.
On Nov. 5, Nancy Everett, 41, of Volcano and Ivan Klein, 42, of
Washington, D.C., were found dead near the flow front.
Kilauea, the world's most active volcano, has been in continuous
eruption since Jan. 3, 1983.
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On the Net:
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: http://www.nps.gov/havo/

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)