Evacuations urged in Hawaii as lava flow advances

01 June, 2018, 06:44 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Lava reaches area of geothermal power station in Hawaii

A broad lava flow has crossed onto the property of a Hawaii geothermal power station, posing a new hazard as molten rock from the erupting Kilauea volcano bulldozes relentlessly through homes and backyards.

Officials ordered immediate evacuations Wednesday in an area overwhelmed by fast-moving lava from fissures caused by Hawaii's Mount Kilauea volcano.

Overnight, lava in Leilani Estates likely destroyed at least two homes but maybe more, the county reported.

They join about 2000 residents displaced due to lava flows and toxic sulphur dioxide gas emissions at the outset of the eruption almost four weeks ago further west, in and around the Leilani Estates community.

Mayor Harry Kim issued a mandatory evacuation order for parts of Leilani Estates and an emergency rule for Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland Hawaii.

There are about 500 homes in the area, and the number of homes consumed by lava skyrocketed from 41 to more than 70 this week.

An aerial view of Kilauea Volcano's summit caldera and an ash plume billowing from Halema'uma'u, a crater within the caldera, May 27, 2018.

Kilauea rumbled back to life on May 3, marking the latest phase of an eruption cycle that has continued almost non-stop for 35 years. The gas can cause irritation to the eyes, throat and skin, and is especially risky for people with respiratory conditions like asthma.


While the eruption remained vigorous, he said the flow rate had dropped substantially from 600 yards an hour to between 45 and 85 yards an hour.

The lava is flowing from about two dozen fissures, the first of which opened more than three weeks ago. More than 240 people are now in a shelter, according to reports.

One new product of the fountaining lava this morning was Pele's hair, harmful fine strands of volcanic glass fibers that are so abrasive that they can scratch auto windshields if wiped away using windshield wipers.

Strands of volcanic glass called as Pele's hair was accumulating on the ground in Leilani Estates and surrounding neighborhoods, and winds may blow lighter particles farther away, scientists said.

Video and images shared by the agencies showed massive yellow bulldozers breaking up the black rock, which is 20 to 30 feet thick in some spots. Vog is a haze created when sulfur dioxide gas and other volcanic pollutants mix with moisture and dust.

As the Guardian reports, the Marshall Islands are now covered in a haze of volcanic smog (called vog for short) which is hampering visibility and could cause problems for those with respiratory issues.

Residents fear an explosive emission of deadly hydrogen sulfide and other gases should wells be ruptured.

The Israeli-owned 38-megawatt plant typically provides around 25pc of electricity on the Big Island.

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