• Lava from Hawaii volcano reaches Pacific Ocean, causing new concerns

    By: Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:
    PUNA, BIG ISLAND, HAWAII -

    Lava from the Kilauea volcano has crossed Highway 137 and entered the Pacific Ocean, the Hawaii County Civil Defense said Sunday. A second lava flow is about 437 yards from the highway, the Star Advertiser of Honolulu reported.

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    Big Island residents may now have to contend with laze -- a mixture of lava and haze -- that forms when hot lava hits the ocean, CNN reported.

    After making contact with the water, the laze sends hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass particles into the air.

    Laze can lead to lung, eye and skin irritation, CNN reported.

    "This hot, corrosive gas mixture caused two deaths immediately adjacent to the coastal entry point in 2000, when seawater washed across recent and active lava flows," the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory wrote on its website.

    Officials have told people to avoid areas where lava meets the ocean, CNN reported.

    Powerful eruptions accompanied by thunderous booms punctuated the air Friday around Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island.

    The volcano spewed lava bombs the size of cows as molten rock flowed from several of the 22 fissures that have opened around the volcano. 

    More than 40 structures, mostly homes, have been destroyed in the eruption that started more than two weeks ago. Lava has now inundated almost 325 acres around Kilauea

     

     

    Update May 19, 2018, 2 a.m. EDT: Fast-moving lava isolated about 40 homes in a rural subdivision, forcing at least four people to be evacuated by county and National Guard helicopters, the Star-Advertiser of Honolulu reported.

    According to the Hawaii County Civil Defense, police, firefighters and National Guard troops were stopping people from entering the area.

    Update May 18, 2018 11:30 p.m. EDT: Hawaiian authorities have sent the National Guard, police and fire units into the East Rift Zone in Puna, according to the Hawaii Civil Defense Agency.

    “There are approximately 40 homes in the area that are isolated. Officials are gaining access by helicopter to the area to assess how many people are there and if they need assistance. All persons in that area are asked to stay where they are and wait for further instructions,” the agency said on its website.

    The Hawaii Volcano Observatory has confirmed another fissure opened on Friday, bringing the total number of fissures to 22. 

    Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes as Kilauea continues its violent eruptions.

    Update May 18, 2018 8:35 a.m EDT:  More lava is spewing from the Kilauea volcano as the 21st fissure opened Thursday, CNN reported.

    Meanwhile, state officials have been handing out masks to protect people who live near Kilauea, ABC News reported. About 18,000 masks have been distributed, CNN reported. The safety measure protects residents from breathing in pieces of rock, glass and crystals that fall as the volcano continues to erupt, ABC News reported.

    Update May 17, 2018 10:45 p.m EDT: Lava is erupting from points along the fissure system on Kilauea volcano, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, but the agency is calling it a “low-level eruption” at this point. 

    Although lava is still spattering from Fissure 17, the flow has not advanced significantly over the past day, the USGS said.

    There are currently 18 fissures that have opened due to seismic activity on Kilauea’ over the past two weeks. 

    Volcanic gas emissions are still elevated throughout the area and residents are urged to remain on alert. 

    “This eruption is still evolving and additional outbreaks of lava are possible. Ground deformation continues and seismicity remains elevated in the area,” the USGS reported late Thursday

    Rain on the Big Island Thursday helped the situation with the ashfall, but volcano experts are warning the situation on Kilauea is  still very dynamic.

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    Several schools were closed as ash continued to fall Thursday due to elevated sulfur dioxide levels. Officials warned people in the area to take shelter and protect themselves from the falling ash.

    "The resulting ash plume will cover the surrounding area," officials with the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said in a 5 a.m. alert. In a subsequent update, USGS officials said the ash plume was moving to the northeast.

    The plume could be seen in an image taken from a webcam at the USGS’ Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

    "Driving conditions may be dangerous so if you are driving pull off the road and wait until visibility improves," the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency warned.

    Michelle Coombs, of the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, told Hawaii News Now that the situation remained “very, very active and very dynamic,” on Thursday.

    “The potential for larger explosions is still there,” she said.

    Officials with the USGS warned Tuesday that an eruption of Kilauea's volcano appeared "imminent."

    The eruption on Kilauea began May 3. It has since forced thousands of people from their homes, destroyed nearly 40 structures -- including dozens of homes -- and created more than two dozen fissures in the ground surrounding the volcano.

    Check back for updates to this developing story.

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