Elderly man dies after falling into a 'lava tube' at his Hawaii home

An elderly man in Hawaii has died after falling into a 22-foot-deep "lava tube" in his yard.

The unnamed man, who lives in the town of Hilo on Hawaii's Big Island, was trimming branches near his home when the tragic accident occurred, Big Island Now reported

Police said the fall, which occurred Monday, likely resulted from a soft area of ground that broke open and dropped the man into the 22-foot-deep tube. Lava tubes are defined as natural channels through which lava travels beneath the earth's surface, according to the U.S. Geological Survey

A rescue team from the Hawaii Fire Department responded to the scene, where they managed to repel into the tube and retrieve the man's body. He was then brought to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

Authorities have yet to release the man's name or notify his family. His age is also not yet confirmed, as police reports simply referred to him as an "elderly male."

"The identification of the victim is being withheld at this time pending notification of next of kin and positive identification," the Hawaii Police Department said in a statement.

Officers also noted that they do not suspect foul play was involved. 

Ken Hon, a volcanologist at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, told The Washington Post that it's easier than people may think to fall into a lava tube. 

"You could be standing on one and not even know it," Hon said.