Hawaii evac­uees leave homes as fresh lava flow cuts off roads on Big Is­land

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - World -

PA­HOA, Hawaii — Na­tional Guard troops, po­lice and fire­fight­ers ush­ered the last group of evac­uees from homes on the eastern tip of Hawaii’s Big Is­land early on Satur­day, hours be­fore lava from the Ki­lauea vol­cano cut off road ac­cess to the area, of­fi­cials said.

A stream of lava as wide as three foot­ball fields flowed over a high­way near a junc­tion at Kapoho, a sea­side com­mu­nity of re­built af­ter a de­struc­tive erup­tion of Ki­lauea in 1960.

The lava flow left Kapoho and the ad­ja­cent devel­op­ment of Va­ca­tion­land cut off from the rest of the is­land by road, ac­cord­ing to the Hawaii County Civil De­fense agency.

Also, lava de­stroyed a fresh­wa­ter lake, boil­ing away all of the wa­ter in it, the Hawai­ian Vol­cano Ob­ser­va­tory re­ported late on Satur­day.

“Lava en­tered Green Lake within Kapoho Crater, pro­duc­ing a large steam plume ... A Hawai­ian County Fire De­part­ment over­flight re­ported that the lava filled the lake and ap­par­ently evap­o­rated all the wa­ter,” the re­port said.

Au­thor­i­ties since Wed­nes­day had been urg­ing res­i­dents of the area to leave be­fore lava spew­ing from a vol­canic fis­sure at the eastern foot of Ki­lauea reached the area.

The fi­nal phase of the evac­u­a­tion was car­ried out late on Fri­day and early Satur­day by fire and po­lice de­part­ment per­son­nel, with help from the Hawaii Na­tional Guard and public works teams, county civil de­fense spokes­woman Janet Sny­der told Reuters by email.

An es­ti­mated 500 peo­ple live in the Kapoho area, but Sny­der said it was not im­me­di­ately clear how many res­i­dents, if any, chose to stay be­hind.

An­other 2,000 peo­ple have al­ready been evac­u­ated from Leilani Es­tates, an area fur­ther west where dozens of homes have been de­voured or cut off by rivers of lava stream­ing over the land­scape since May 3.

Toxic sul­fur diox­ide gas emis­sions have cre­ated an ad­di­tional haz­ard. So too have air­borne vol­canic glass fibers, called “Pele’s hair”, wispy strands pro­duced by lava foun­tains and car­ried aloft by the wind.

The cur­rent ac­tiv­ity has been ac­com­pa­nied for weeks by daily ex­plo­sions of gas and vol­canic rock from Ki­lauea’s sum­mit crater as well as earth­quakes.

But the sum­mit has qui­eted down over the past few days, as tons of rub­ble shaken loose from the in­te­rior walls of the crater have fallen into the void and plugged up the bot­tom of the vent.

Sci­en­tists are un­sure whether the block­age will even­tu­ally end erup­tions at the sum­mit or lead to a buildup of pres­sure that could cause a much big­ger explosion.

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