Lava razes 26 homes after volcanic eruptions on Hawaii's Big Island
May 07 2018 09:22 AM
Lava advances along a street near a fissure in Leilani Estates, on Kilauea Volcano's lower East Rift
Lava advances along a street near a fissure in Leilani Estates, on Kilauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone, Hawaii. Reuters


At least 26 homes were destroyed as 10 fissures opened up due to ongoing volcanic activity on Hawaii's Big Island, local authorities said late Sunday.

The Leilani Estates residential subdivision will continue to be evacuated during daylight hours, the County of Hawaii's Civil Defense Department said in a statement.

Recent activity on the slopes of the Kilauea volcano has opened the fissures on the eastern corner of Hawaii, the island that lends its name to the Pacific archipelago.

The Civil Defence Department said that "active venting of lava and hazardous fumes continues" in part of the subdivision.

Conditions permitting, some of the several hundred people evacuated in recent days from Leilani Estates were being allowed on Sunday to briefly re-enter "to complete evacuation of pets, medicine and vital documents," the department said in a statement.

People entering through police checkpoints "must be on the alert for elevated levels of sulphur dioxide, wildfire and volcanic eruption," the statement added.

No access was being allowed to a nearby neighbourhood, Lanipuna Gardens, due to volcanic gases.

Hundreds of people from Leilani Estates and adjoining districts were being housed in local shelters, with hundreds more staying with family and friends.

Authorities urged against curiosity seeking.

"Please, the residents of Leilani need your help by staying out of the area. This is not the time for sightseeing," the county said.

Continuing earthquakes associated with the eruption peaked on Friday with several strong jolts, including one reaching magnitude 6.9 that was felt as far away as Oahu, the island where Honolulu, the chain's most populous city, is located.

The quakes caused modest structural damage and power outages on the Big Island, left some roads cracked and set off rock slides that blocked traffic.

A state of emergency is in effect on the Big Island.

The eruption began April 30 with the collapse of a lava-filled crater in the volcano, with the fissures first opening Thursday, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

The fissures, some extending for hundreds of metres, often slow or stop erupting within hours, as more open.

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