Hawaii man found dead after falling into tube formed by lava

A lava tube skylight

A lava tube skylight

An elderly man fell to his death after slipping down a "lava tube" in his yard in Hawaii, local police said Wednesday.

According to Hawaii Island Police, the unidentified man was reported missing to police after friends and neighbours hadn't heard from him in several days.

Hawaiʻi Fire Department Rescue personnel responded to the scene and were able to repel into the lave tube and extract the victim, the release stated.

Police Maj. Robert Wagner told Big Island Now that it appeared the man had been trimming some branches on his property when he fell through the soft patch.

He was taken to the Hilo Medical Center but was pronounced dead.

An autopsy performed Tuesday confirmed that the victim died as a result of injuries constant with a fall. When they're extinct, the tubes do not have lava in them, but form large tunnels beneath the earth's surface.

Police say the 71-year-old had apparently fallen about 22ft (7m) "through a soft area of ground".

Authorities have yet to release the man's name or notify his family.

A lava tube is a large underground channel that is formed naturally by lava flowing beneath the ground's surface.

The Kaumana Caves Park is a popular hiking destination, with tourists flocking to see the tubes formed after during the 1881 eruption from Mauna Loa.

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