More evac­u­a­tions on Hawaii’s Big Is­land

Global Times - Weekend - - TRAVEL - Reuters

Molten rock from sev­eral lava-spew­ing fis­sures opened by Ki­lauea Vol­cano crept to­ward clus­ters of homes and va­ca­tion ren­tals on the east­ern tip of Hawaii’s Big Is­land on Wed­nes­day, prompt­ing au­thor­i­ties to usher res­i­dents out of the area as a pre­cau­tion.

Evac­u­a­tion of the Va­ca­tion­land de­vel­op­ment and ad­ja­cent Kapoho com­mu­nity, re­built af­ter a de­struc­tive erup­tion of Ki­lauea in 1960, came on the 28th day of what ge­ol­o­gists rank as one of the big­gest up­heavals in a cen­tury from one of the world’s most ac­tive vol­ca­noes.

The Hawaii County Civil De­fense agency is­sued the ad­vi­sory as lava flows picked up speed late on Tues­day and early on Wed­nes­day and threat­ened to cut off a key traf­fic route into the sea­side area on the far east­ern flank of the vol­cano.

“Res­i­dents in the Kapoho area, in­clud­ing Kapoho Beach Lots and Va­ca­tion­land, are ad­vised to evac­u­ate,” the agency said in a morn­ing bul­letin. “You are at risk of be­ing iso­lated due to pos­si­ble lava in­un­da­tion of Beach Road.”

On Tues­day, a lava stream crossed a larger east­west route, High­way 132, as it ad­vanced to­ward the greater Kapoho area. A sep­a­rate flow of red-hot molten rock was headed in the di­rec­tion of the Va­ca­tion­land com­mu­nity to the south.

Civil de­fense of­fi­cials also pointed to se­vere com­mu­ni­ca­tion out­ages in the area due to downed power and phone lines, re­in­forc­ing the de­ci­sion to pro­ceed with evac­u­a­tion plans im­me­di­ately rather than wait for a po­ten­tial emer­gency.

Res­i­dents were urged to stay tuned to lo­cal ra­dio sta­tions for fur­ther up­dates.

The num­ber of peo­ple af­fected by Wed­nes­day’s evac­u­a­tions was not pre­cisely known, but Kapoho and Va­ca­tion­land to­gether en­com­pass about 500 homes, mostly va­ca­tion ren­tals, ac­cord­ing to Civil De­fense Ad­min­is­tra­tor Tal­madge Magno.

An es­ti­mated 2,500 res­i­dents in all have been dis­placed since the erup­tion be­gan nearly four weeks ago, Magno said. The bulk of evac­uees were forced from their homes at the out­set, in and around the Leilani Es­tates com­mu­nity far­ther west, where con­cen­tra­tions of nox­ious vol­canic gases re­main high.

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim on Wed­nes­day re­newed an emer­gency procla­ma­tion for 60 more days, al­low­ing con­struc­tion of tem­po­rary shelters and other re­lief projects to pro­ceed on an ex­pe­dited ba­sis, with­out re­views and per­mits nor­mally re­quired.

At least 128 struc­tures on the is­land have al­ready been de­stroyed, cut off or oth­er­wise left un­in­hab­it­able by lava flows, Kim said. Magno said 75 homes have been de­mol­ished.

Ki­lauea’s main crater at the vol­cano’s sum­mit has con­tin­ued to pe­ri­od­i­cally belch ash high up into the sky. But Na­tional Weather Ser­vice me­te­o­rol­o­gist Tom Bir­chard told re­porters dur­ing a con­fer­ence call that most of the ash was blow­ing out to sea on the pre­vail­ing trade winds, then dis­si­pat­ing quickly.

Nev­er­the­less, some ash and fumes have been spouted high enough into the at­mos­phere to be car­ried far over the Pa­cific Ocean, with ob­servers in the Mar­shall Is­lands, Mi­crone­sia and Guam de­tect­ing traces of vog – a hazy mix of sul­fur diox­ide, aerosols, mois­ture and fine par­ti­cles, Bir­chard said.

Ki­lauea rum­bled back to life on May 3 as it be­gan ex­trud­ing lava and toxic gases through a se­ries of cracks in the ground on its east­ern flank, mark­ing the lat­est phase of an erup­tion cy­cle that has con­tin­ued nearly non­stop for 35 years.

The oc­cur­rence of new lava vents, or fis­sures, now num­ber­ing about two dozen, have been ac­com­pa­nied by flur­ries of earth­quakes and in­ter­mit­tent erup­tions from the sum­mit crater, in­clud­ing a mag­ni­tude 5.3 tremor mea­sured on Wed­nes­day.

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