Hawaii braces for worse lava flows amid erupting volcano

Trump declares a major disaster in Hawaii


Published: May 12, 2018 16:09:17 | Updated: May 17, 2018 10:25:42


Lava advances along a street near a fissure in Leilani Estates, on Kilauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone, Hawaii. Reuters/File

The Kilauea volcano erupted on May 3, leaving the future of hundreds of people in Hawaii's Big Island uncertain.

More destructive lava flows could soon hit Hawaii’s Big Island as the Kilauea volcano erupts, posing a greater threat than oozing magma that has so far destroyed dozens of homes and forced thousands to evacuate, scientists said on Friday.

As a lava lake at Kilauea’s summit drains inside the volcano, magma is running underground. It could burst to the surface as large, fast-moving and intensely hot lava flows and produce higher levels of toxic gases, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist-in-charge Tina Neal said.

She adds that there is a possibility of lager, higher eruptions taking place if situations worsens.

A recent CNN report said, President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in Hawaii after days of volcanic activity that sent molten lava and toxic fumes spewing into residential neighbourhoods.

Federal funding is available to state, eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organisations on a cost-sharing basis, the White House said.

Fifteen large cracks or fissures have opened on the eastern flank of Kilauea since the volcano erupted eight days ago. The volcanic vents have oozed relatively cool, sluggish magma left over from a similar event in 1955. Fresher magma could now emerge behind it.

In addition, Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, threatens to begin a series of explosive eruptions within days or weeks that could form huge clouds of volcanic smog, or vog, and hurl boulders as big as small cars.

Geologists expect new lava outbreaks in or around the hard-hit Leilani Estates area in the southeastern Puna district, about 20 miles (32 km) south of Hilo, where 27 homes have been destroyed and all 1,900 residents have been evacuated.

Local residents got a text message alert at 11 am warning them they could have little or no time to evacuate in the event of future eruptions.

“We are telling people to plan for the worst. They should have a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C,” said Roann Okomura, a county official who is helping run one of the shelters set up for evacuees.

Ron Peters, 59, knew it was time to leave his home in the Opihikao community, 2.6 miles from Leilani Estates, when fruit trees and other vegetation began to die in the rotten-egg-smelling clouds of sulfur-dioxide gas.

While locals contend with lava and gas on the ground, explosions at Kilauea’s summit some 25 miles (40 km) to the west were dusting communities with ash that irritated eyes and breathing, reports Reuters.

Volcanic smog may be blowing hundreds of miles from Kilauea, with people on the streets of state capital Honolulu, around 210 miles (340 km) northwest on the island of Oahu, complaining it was “very voggy” on Friday.

Share if you like