News ID: 214654
Published: 0220 GMT May 07, 2018

Hawaii volcano destroys dozens of homes, forces evacuations

Hawaii volcano destroys dozens of homes, forces evacuations
US Geological Survey via AP

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano destroyed 26 homes and spewed lava hundreds of feet into the air, leaving evacuated residents unsure how long they might be displaced.

In revised figures Sunday, Hawaii County officials said another four unspecified structures were covered by lava, AP reported.

Hawaii officials said the decimated homes were in the Leilani Estates subdivision, where molten rock, toxic gas and steam have been bursting through openings in the ground created by the volcano.

Some of the more than 1,700 residents who have been evacuated were allowed to briefly return to gather medicine, pets, and other necessities.

Officials say residents would be able to do so each day until further notice as authorities monitor which areas are safe.

Lava has spread around 387,500 square feet (36,000 square meters) surrounding the most active fissure, though the rate of movement is slow. There was no indication when the lave might stop or how far it might spread.

“There’s more magma in the system to be erupted. As long as that supply is there, the eruption will continue,” US Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall said.

About 250 people and 90 pets spent Saturday night at shelters, the American Red Cross said.

The number of lava-venting fissures in the neighborhood grew overnight from eight to as many as 10, Stovall said, though some have quieted at various points. Regardless, USGS scientists expect fissures to keep spewing.

The lava could eventually be channeled to one powerful vent while others go dormant, as has happened in some previous Hawaii eruptions, Stovall said.

Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has been erupting continuously since 1983.

The USGS’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory issued a notice in mid-April that there were signs of pressure building in underground magma, and a new vent could form on the cone or along what’s known as the East Rift Zone. Leilani Estates sits along the zone.

The crater floor began to collapse Monday, triggering earthquakes and pushing lava into new underground chambers that carried it toward Leilani Estates and nearby communities. A magnitude-6.9 earthquake — Hawaii’s largest in more than 40 years — hit the area Friday.

   
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