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New fissures open at Hawaii volcano forcing more evacuations

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Staff Writer | May 15, 2018
At least four new fissures have opened on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano this week, prompting more evacuations.
New fissures Hawaii volcano
Pacific   More lava-belching cracks are expected to open
There are ongoing concerns the volcano could be building up to a larger eruption, with the crater lake deflating while gas emissions remain elevated, Radio NZ reported.

Dozens of lower Puna residents are the latest to flee homes as the new eruptions have splattered lava metres into the air.

The newest flow appears to be heading towards the ocean and a highway.

There are at least 19 fissures now, and fissure 17 is producing lava spatter that is being closely monitored.

So far the lava flow has covered over 100 acres of land, some roads are impassable and at least 37 structures have been destroyed, including homes.

At the summit, crater lake levels have dropped but scientists say certain conditions are not yet being seen to indicate an explosive steam event and ash fall.

Lava flowing from Hawaii's erupting Kilauea volcano is threatening highways and officials may order thousands more people to evacuate before escape routes are cut off.

Lava from a huge new fissure is tearing through farmland towards a coastal dirt road that is one of the last exit routes for about 2000 residents in the southeast area of Hawaii's Big Island.

More lava-belching cracks are expected to open among homes and countryside about 40km east of Kilauea's smoking summit, possibly blocking another remaining exit route, Highway 132.

Fountains of magma spouted "lava bombs" over 30m into the air as the molten rock traveled east-southeast towards the coastal road, Highway 137, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

Hawaii National Guard spokesman Jeff Hickman said if either highway is hit by lava, mass evacuations would be triggered.

Since eruptions began 10 days ago, dozens of homes have been destroyed and officials have ordered the evacuations of nearly 2000 people in the lower Puna district of the Big Island, home to around 187,000 residents.