Hawaii volcano destroys dozens of homes, forces evacuations

U.S. Geological Survey/Handout | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Lava from a fissure slowly advances to the northeast on Hookapu Street after the eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano on May 5, 2018 in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii.

Lava has spread around 387,500 square feet (36,000 square meters) surrounding the most active fissure, though the rate of movement is slow. There was no indication when the lave might stop or how far it might spread.

“There’s more magma in the system to be erupted. As long as that supply is there, the eruption will continue,” U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall said.

Cherie McArthur wondered what would become of her macadamia nut farm in Lanipuna Gardens, another evacuated neighborhood near Leilani Estates. One of the year’s first harvests had been planned for this weekend.

“If we lose our farm, we don’t know where we’re going to go. You lose your income and you lose your home at the same time,” said McArthur, who’s had the farm for about 20 years. “All you can do is pray and hope and try to get all the information you can.”

About 250 people and 90 pets spent Saturday night at shelters, the American Red Cross said.

The number of lava-venting fissures in the neighborhood grew overnight from eight to as many as 10, Stovall said, though some have quieted at various points. Regardless, USGS scientists expect fissures to keep spewing.

The lava could eventually be channeled to one powerful vent while others go dormant, as has happened in some previous Hawaii eruptions, Stovall said.

Kilauea (pronounced kill-ah-WAY’-ah), one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has been erupting continuously since 1983.

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