Hawaii volcano eruption destroys 26 houses

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Honolulu, May 7 (IANS) At least 26 houses have been destroyed after the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii’s Big Island erupted last week spewing molten rocks and high levels of sulphur dioxide into the area, according to authorities.

As of Sunday morning, nine volcanic vents had erupted in evacuated neighbourhoods on the island, CNN quoted County of Hawaii officials as saying.

All residents of Leilani Estates, a community of about 1,700 people near the Big Island’s eastern edge, and nearby Lanipuna Gardens were ordered to evacuate since the eruption took place on May 3. It has showed no signs of stopping since then.

The eruption was followed by a massive 6.9-magnitude earthquake on May 4 — the island’s most powerful since 1975.

“The area continues to be unstable with volcanic venting and related hazards of earthquake and poisonous gases ongoing,” the Hawaii Civil Defence Agency said on Saturday night.

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Cracks in Kilauea volcano’s rift zone — an area of fissures miles away from the summit — have been spurting lava near the island’s eastern edge.

New photos released by the US Geological Survey (USGS) on Sunday showed a wall of molten lava that came from the seventh fissure in Leilani Estates and a new crack in one of the subdivision’s roads.

Hawaii County Civil Defence administrator Talmadge Magno told the media that the vents had quietened on Saturday, “but we’re pretty certain that we’re not done yet”.

On Sunday, some Leilani Estates residents were allowed to return to their homes to gather additional supplies, belongings and any pets that may have been left behind, CNN reported.

The American Red Cross has opened two shelters at the Pahoa and Keaau Community Centres, where some evacuees have gathered while they await news about their homes.

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Following the eruption, Hawaii Governor David Ige had activated the National Guard to help with evacuations and security.

–IANS

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