Evac­u­a­tion as vol­cano spews lava in Hawaii

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - WORLD -

A MANDA­TORY evac­u­a­tion or­der re­mained in ef­fect in part of Hawaii yes­ter­day af­ter the Ki­lauea vol­cano erupted, spit­ting red-hot lava out of ground fis­sures and re­leas­ing dan­ger­ous gases into res­i­den­tial ar­eas.

The erup­tion be­gan around 4.45pm lo­cal time on Thurs­day, caus­ing hours of lava spat­ter and gas bursts to erupt in the Leilani Es­tates sub­di­vi­sion of the US state’s Big Is­land, prompt­ing the manda­tory evac­u­a­tion of some 1 700 peo­ple.

“White, hot vapour and blue fume em­anated from an area of crack­ing in the eastern part of the sub­di­vi­sion,” the US Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey (USGS) said. The area has about 770 struc­tures.

The fis­sures stopped erupt­ing at around 6.30pm lo­cal time, ac­cord­ing to the US Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey, which warned “ad­di­tional erupt­ing fis­sures and new lava out­breaks may oc­cur”.

The Civil De­fence Agency urged those un­der manda­tory evac­u­a­tion orders to steer clear, as fire au­thor­i­ties were de­tect­ing ex­tremely high lev­els of dan­ger­ous sul­phur diox­ide gas in the zone.

The erup­tion came af­ter hun­dreds of small earth­quakes in re­cent days that fol­lowed the col­lapse of a crater floor on the Puu Oo vol­canic cone. A 5.0-mag­ni­tude earth­quake on Thurs­day morn­ing south of the cone had trig­gered rock-falls and po­ten­tial ad­di­tional col­lapse of the crater, USGS said, and sent a short-lived but mas­sive pink plume of ash waft­ing into the air.

The Pa­cific is­land state’s gov­er­nor David Ige signed an emer­gency procla­ma­tion re­leas­ing dis­as­ter funds to the Big Is­land in the erup­tion’s wake, as lo­cal news footage showed streams of lava snaking through forested ar­eas near Ki­lauea, one of the most ac­tive volcanoes in the world.

Lo­cal com­mu­nity cen­tres in the broader dis­trict, home to some 10 000 peo­ple, were open to res­i­dents af­fected by the threat, Hawaii’s emer­gency man­age­ment agency said. Us­ing his drone, area res­i­dent Jeremiah Osuna cap­tured video footage of the red-hot lava flow in the re­gion, which he de­scribed as the open­ing of a “fire cur­tain” that left him feel­ing shock and awe.

“It was like if you put a bunch of rocks into a dryer and turned it on -- a lot of earth and pres­sure and fire just mov­ing around,” he said.

Gov­er­nor Ige ac­ti­vated the ar­chi­pel­ago state’s Na­tional Guard troops, and told res­i­dents to pay heed to of­fi­cial warn­ings.

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