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People airlifted away from relentless lava flow in Hawaii

Staff Writer | June 5, 2018
People living near Hawaii's erupting Kilauea volcano have been airlifted out to escape flowing lava.
lava flow in Hawaii
Volcano   A river of lava
More homes have been destroyed, earthquakes are continuing and lava is now entering the ocean in Kapoho Bay.

A river of lava spewing from the foot of Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano swallowed about three dozen more homes on the Big Island during a weekend of destruction, officials said.

The flow of lava especially from fissure eight has cut off Puna Kapoho and several residents had to be airlifted to safety.

All but a few of the estimated 500 inhabitants of Kapoho and adjacent Vacationland development are now believed to have fled their homes, an agency spokesman said. The area lies near the site of a seaside village buried in lava from a 1960 eruption.

Lava flows have knocked out telephone and power lines, causing widespread communication outages, and forced the shutdown of a geothermal energy plant that normally provides about a quarter of the island's electricity.

Since eruptions began one month ago, the lava flow has been relentless.

About 2000 residents have been displaced from Leilani since earlier this month as fountains of lava and high concentrations of toxic sulfur dioxide gas continued unabated. A mandatory evacuation of much the subdivision was imposed last week.

The latest damage came from a large lava flow that crept several miles before severing a key highway junction at Kapoho on Saturday and then obliterating about a half dozen blocks of the subdivision over the weekend, the spokesman said.

Ongoing seismic activity has seen more than 500 quakes noted within a 24-hour period.

Civil defense reported a total of 117 homes and other structures were destroyed as the eruption from Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, continued through its 33rd day.

At the crater, volcanic explosions are being recorded, with some of the ash reaching up to 8000 feet.

The plumes of volcanic ash have posed an additional nuisance and a health concern to nearby communities.

So too have airborne volcanic glass fibers, called "Pele's hair," wispy strands carried aloft by the wind from lava fountains and named for the volcano goddess of Hawaiian myth.

On the coast as the lava reaches the ocean it is sending up a large plume of what's known as laze - formed when lava reacts with seawater to form a mix of acid fumes, steam and glass-like specks.

Seaside residents and boaters also have been warned to avoid noxious clouds of laze.

At the same time, most of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, one of the island's biggest tourist attractions, remains closed indefinitely due to hazards from ash and volcanic rock ejected from the summit crater, and accompanying earthquakes that have damaged park facilities.


 

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