Hawaii evacuees leave homes as new lava threatens on Big Island

Hawaii evacuees leave homes as new lava threatens on Big Island

Hawaii evacuees leave homes as new lava threatens on Big Island

The latest upheaval of Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, comes on the heels of an eruption cycle that began in 1983 and continued nearly nonstop for 35 years, destroying more than 200 dwellings and other structures.

Plumes of volcanic ash belched into the air by periodic daily explosions from the crater at Kilauea's summit have posed an additional nuisance and a health concern to nearby communities.

"We don't have an estimate yet, but safe to say that hundreds of homes were lost in Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland last night", said Janet Snyder, a spokeswoman for Hawaii County.

The site marked the latest challenge facing authorities during what geologists call an unprecedented, simultaneous eruption at Kilauea's summit and from giant fissures 25 miles (40 km) down its eastern side. Fissure 8 is feeding a channel transporting lava to the northeast along Highway 132 and east to the ocean entry in Kapoho Bay.

"For us it's more of a vacation area, but for those who live there permanently, they're trying to figure out where they're going to be living", he said.

USGS helicopter footage from Monday showed lava from one fissure entering the ocean at Kapoho Bay and completely filled it, KGMB-TV reports.

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Hawaii Civil Defense Service officials said they went through the neighbourhood to warn residents this was their last chance to evacuate before their final escape route was cut off by lava.

About two dozen recent fissures have appeared since the volcano began erupting on May 3, destroying dozens of homes.

Three people were evacuated from an isolated part of the Kapoho community Sunday, according to the Hawaii Fire Department.

The lava, which the USGS said has covered a 14 square kilometre area, has burned at least 400 power poles, cutting power to most of the area, according to Hawaii Electric Light Co. "Persons in violation of this order are subject to arrest and will be liable for any costs associated with rescue operations in the mandatory evacuation area".

But there's also danger in what's known as a laze - a deadly combination of steam, hydrochloric acid and fine glass particles (dubbed Pele's hair) - created when the lava hits the water. Police on Monday said a 62-year-old man sped through a checkpoint near an intersection where lava was approaching.

"USGS was on a routine overflight and saw people on the road in an area cut off by the lava".

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