Natural disaster hits Kilauea summit, sending ash plumes up to 8,000 feet


The latest damage came from a large lava flow that crept several miles (km) before severing a key highway junction at Kapoho on Saturday and then obliterating about a half dozen blocks of the subdivision over the weekend, the spokesman said.

The eruption has cut power, cell reception and county water in the area, CNN reported.

About a dozen people remain in the area, but it is not clear whether they are in neighborhoods that are immediately threatened by lava, officials said.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologists say the lava fountaining from fissure no. 8 is the hottest they've ever detected in this eruption and the flow it's feeding is capable of moving upwards of 600 yards per hour. He told reporters on Monday that temblors are almost continuous at the summit and that gas emissions remain "very high". The flow has prompted warnings from Hawaii County Civil Defense authorities about laze - steam formed of lava and haze that sends hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass particles into the air.

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

Three people were evacuated from an isolated part of the Kapoho community Sunday, according to the Hawaii Fire Department.

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The devastating flow that cut through Kapoho can all be sourced back to fissure no. 8, which has been creating fountains of lava for 11 days straight. The Civil Defense Agency warned it could cause injury if it got in residents' eyes or was breathed in.

At least 87 homes have been destroyed by the Kilauea volcano eruption in the four weeks since lava began flowing from its summit.

The two men and a woman became the latest in a series of evacuations on Hawaii's Big Island forced by the volcano, which has been erupting since May 3.

When asked at a news conference Monday about the number of evacuations, he said he didn't have a good estimate because up to 80% of the houses in some areas are vacation rentals.

As of Monday, lava burned down 117 homes, said Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder. This eruption has lasted longer than the 1955 and 1924 eruptions, the USGS said. "There are still people in the inundation zone that can not, there's no way for them to get out".

While dozens of quakes in the magnitude-2 and -3 range have occurred since the volcano began spewing ash and lava a month ago, Sunday's 5.5-magnitude natural disaster is the largest since.