Hawaii volcano lava destroys hundreds of homes overnight

Hawaii volcano update

Hawaii Civil Defense Service officials said they went through the neighbourhood to warn residents this was their last chance to evacuate before their final escape route was cut off by lava.

Hawaii Civil Defence Administrator Talmadge Magno has advised people to stand at least 1,000 feet back from the area.

There is a possibility that some residents could have died in the disaster, officials said.

In theory, bombing a channel can slow the lava flow down and reduce the damage inflicted on cities because the deadly liquid moves fastest when contained in a channel or a lava tube, while lava that flows in a wider space is much slower and cools faster.

All but a few of the estimated 500 inhabitants of Kapoho and adjacent Vacationland development are now believed to have fled their homes, an agency spokesman said.

Lava from an erupting Hawaii volcano has destroyed more than 100 homes in a rural Big Island district.

The US Geological Survey said the lava from the Kilauea volcano has covered an area of 5.5 square miles - four times as big as New York's Central Park.

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UPDATE (8:20 a.m.) - USGS reported on Tuesday morning that "the northernmost lobe of the Fissure 8 flow, in the Noni Farms Road area, advanced downslope about 200 yards overnight".

USGS helicopter footage from Monday showed lava from one fissure entering the ocean at Kapoho Bay and completely filled it, KGMB-TV reports.

Its website says: "Vigorous eruption of lava continues from the lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) fissure system in the area of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens". They stopped to inquire of their situation, and then when asked, airlifted them to a safe place. "Period", county spokeswoman Janet Snyder said.

Those in Kapoho - including Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland - also were ordered out because of the risk of getting trapped by the lava.

Kilauea is the youngest and most active Hawaiian shield volcano, located on the southern part of the Island of Hawai'i, known as Big Island. Vog is a haze created when sulfur dioxide gas and other volcanic pollutants mix with moisture and dust. They are often also referred to as "flammagenitus" or "fire clouds", the USGS said in the post.

The grim update came as an explosion caused the volcano to spew toxic ash and rubble almost a mile into the air and triggered a 5.5-magnitude natural disaster.

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