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article imageMore evacuations as Kilauea volcanic activity increases

By Karen Graham     May 26, 2018 in Environment
Firefighters went door-to-door urging some residents of Leilani Estates to leave as lava from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano moved closer, once again.
Hawaii County officials are reporting lava has destroyed 82 structures on the Big Island as eruptions continue from Hawaii’s Kīlauea volcano. "Any residents remaining in the currently affected areas should evacuate now," read an emergency message sent by the County of Hawaii Civil Defense.
There were three explosions from Overlook Crater on Kilauea's summit this morning, producing ash clouds to between 10,000 and 11,000 feet above sea level. The National Weather Service Nexrad radar indicated that the clouds quickly dispersed. Earthquakes are continuing, along with ash explosions as the area continues to subside with the withdrawal of magma.
As of Saturday, Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens were still being impacted by lava eruptions and flow. Fissure 22 continues to erupt lava that is flowing southeast to the coast and into the ocean, while fountains at Fissures 6 and 13 are feeding lava into another channel that reaches to the ocean, forming a second ocean entry point.
Residents have been warned that toxic gas emissions near the fissure eruptions remain very high, and the USGS says the emissions have tripled as of Saturday morning. This could cause a phenomenon known as “vog” in areas downwind of the vents.
Vog is a combination of water, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, dust and fine particles, which can cause irritation to the lungs, especially in people who suffer from respiratory problems. The USGS is also warning that areas where lava meets the ocean, are hazardous.
About 2,200 acres have been covered in lava since the Kilauea volcano eruptions began on May 3, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno. The worry now is the lava flows could end up blocking Highway 132, an access road for authorities and an evacuation route for residents living in the area.
“Hazards include walking on uneven, glassy lava flow surfaces and around unstable, vertical sea cliffs,” the agency said in an alert. “Venturing too close to an ocean entry on land or the ocean exposes you to flying debris from the sudden explosive interaction between lava and water.”
“Also, the lava delta is unstable because it is built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand. This loose material can easily be eroded away by surf, causing the new land to become unsupported and slide into the sea.”
Nothing is as important as human life and the safety of the residents on the Big Island, however, Hawaii's tourism officials are saying the Big Island has lost about $3 million for May, June, and July because cruise ships have canceled planned stops.
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