Fissures spread from Hawaii volcano as more homes threatened
Some 1,700 told to leave dwellings amid fears Kilauea eruption zone may extend
Lava continues to overrun Hookupu Street in Pahoa, Hawaii. The Kilauea volcano has destroyed homes and spewed lava hundreds of feet into the air. Photograph:Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP
Emergency crews were poised to evacuate more people on Tuesday as fissures kept spreading from Hawaii’s erupting Kilauea volcano, five days after it started exploding.
About 1,700 people have already been ordered to leave their homes after lava crept into neighbourhoods, destroying 35 homes and other buildings, and deadly volcanic gases belched up through cracks in the earth. No deaths or major injuries have been reported.
The evacuation zone could grow as fissures are spreading into new areas on the eastern side of the Big Island, Hawaii civic defence administrator Talmadge Magno told a community meeting. “If things get dicey, you got to get out,” he said on Monday. “If you live in the surrounding communities . . . be prepared. Evacuation could come at any time.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday sent an advance team to Hawaii but the agency had not declared an emergency, Fema spokeswoman Brandi Richard said in a phone interview.
Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes and one of five on the island, has been in constant eruption for 35 years. It predominantly blows off basaltic lava in effusive eruptions that flow into the ocean but occasionally experiences more explosive events. It has opened 12 volcanic vents since it started sending out fountains and rivers of lava as hot as 1,093 degrees on Thursday, officials said.
Resident Heide Austin said she left her home just west of the current eruption zone after noticing small cracks appearing at the end of her driveway. One eruption near her home “sounded like a huge blowtorch going off”, said the 77 year old, who lives alone. “That’s when I really got into a frenzy.”
Many evacuees were allowed to return home during daylight hours on Sunday and Monday during a lull in seismic activity. Residents of a second area, Lanipuna Gardens, were barred from returning home on Monday due to deadly volcanic gases.
Leilani Estates, about 19km from the volcano, was evacuated due to the risk of sulphur dioxide gas, which can be life-threatening at high levels. The southeast corner of the island was rocked by a powerful magnitude 6.9 earthquake on the volcano’s south flank on Friday. More earthquakes and eruptions have been forecast. – Reuters