Hawaii volcano warning as poisonous gas spews from lava

Pauline Gross
May 15, 2018

The Puna Geothermal Venture plant sits at the edge of the Leilani Estates residential area on Hawaii's Big Island where lava from 15 volcanic fissures has so far destroyed 36 structures, majority homes, and forced the evacuation of around 2,000 residents.

Another fissure has opened up on Hawaii's Big Island, ripping through the ground in the wake of the risky eruption of the Kilauea volcano, the Hawaiian Civil Defense said on Monday.

Steaming cracks along one of the areas main routes, Highway 132, have raised concerns a new fissure may develop there, which would imperil access for 2,000 people in the lower Puna area.

If the highway is cut off, officials will start to plan for another major evacuation, Hawaii National Guard spokesman Major Jeff Hickman told reporters.

The Honolulu County Mayor's office, which oversees Puna, said on Sunday that lava eruptions had destroyed 37 structures.

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Cracks are visible along a road in the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018.

"It's optimistic to think that this is the last fissure we're going to see", said Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Deputy Scientist-In-Charge Scientist Steve Brantley, adding that a similar seismic event in 1955 lasted 88 days.

Fountains of magma spouted "lava bombs" over 100 feet (30 meters) into the air and a narrow flow had traveled just under a mile (1.6 km) east-southeast by 6.30 a.m. (12.30 p.m. EDT), moving slowly towards the coast some two miles (3.2 km) away, the Observatory said.

Lanipuna Gardens residents are urged to be cautious of active volcanic eruption and gas emissions, the Hawaiian Civil Defense said.

After a new fissure opened on Wednesday about half a mile from a geothermal power plant, Hawaii Governor David Ige set up an emergency task force to remove the pentane used in the plant's turbines. No deaths or major injuries have been reported in latest series of eruptions from Kilauea, which has been in a state of almost constant eruption since 1983. If it reaches the water, it will breach a coastal route, highway 137, another access route in Lower Puna.

Other reports by GizPress

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