Monday, Jan. 30, 2023 |
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Three Kazakhstani visitors were cited Wednesday after being observed by three different law enforcement agencies trespassing within the closed area of the Mauna Loa Forest Reserve.
The reserve was closed shortly after the current eruption of Mauna Loa to protect people from risk of injury or worse.
According to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, an officer from the DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, or DOCARE, was notified by an Army police officer assigned to the Pohakuloa Training Area that he had observed three people walking in the active lava flow area off Daniel K. Inouye Highway.
Subsequently, an officer from the Hawaii 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.
The three men cited are 31-year-old Adibayev Axamat, 23-year-old Daurem Sabit and 32-year-old Nurz Niyaz.
All three men are scheduled to appear in Hilo District Court on Jan. 20 on petty misdemeanor charges and could face fines of up to $500 and/or jail time of 30 days.
DOCARE also is 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.
“The Mauna Loa Forest Reserve and active lava zone is closed for a reason,” DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said. “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.”
A DLNR spokesman declined to make further statements, saying the department cannot comment on ongoing court cases.
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