At least 10 fissures or volcanic vents have opened within areas nearby Hawaii's Mount Kilauea Volcano as of Sunday night. Consequently, at least 26 homes have suffered destruction.
Massive lava flows are now feared to increase in the coming days, flowing throughout the nearby residential neighborhood of Leilani Estates. The two most recent fissures opened on Saturday night. Fortunately, other fissures which opened ahead were no longer spewing lava.
1,000 Feet Of Lava
Wendy Stovall, a volcanologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, predicts that the most recent fissures could spew out lava as high as 1,000 feet. On Saturday, As the Mount Kilauea volcano eruption progresses, magma will flow through the pathway where other vents are located. As the lava piled up and hardened it could clog other vents along the path. The lava which could no longer come out from the clogged vents will find its way to newer vents.
One of the newly opened fissures shoots out lava as high as 230 feet.
Residents of Leilani Estates were highly advised to evacuate. Apart from the occupants, another cause for worry is the people who were sightseeing and taking photos of the lava from a distance that could prove to be risky.
Stovall said some residents have already been accustomed to Mount Kilauea volcano eruptions and became comfortable or to some extent mesmerized by the lava flowing despite the dangers.
Still, the county civil defense agency highlighted that the situation is not the time for sightseeing.
On Friday, the neighborhood was also hit by a magnitude 6.9 earthquake. It was just one among the dozens to hit the area within 24 hours and was the most powerful earthquake to hit the island.
One evacuee said he was having a farewell dinner with friends when cops knocked at his house and gave them only five minutes to pack and leave. Another shared that he and his wife of 26 years were compelled to leave their dream house. Another shared the difficulty of possibly evacuating his 88-year-old mother who needed portable oxygen.
After the earthquake, there were 14,000 customers of Hawaii Electric Light who immediately lost power. While the staff were able to restore electricity for half of the customers, the crew were obstructed to work further due to dangerous sulfur gas levels in some areas.
Mount Kilauea Volcano Active Eruption
As of Sunday, the U.S. Geological Survey says that lava and gas continue along Kilauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone within the Leilani Estates subdivision. The agency adds that fissure eruptions continue and a lava flow had advanced northward about 0.6 miles.
Friday's 6.9 magnitude earthquake also continues to bring aftershocks with larger aftershocks predicted to cause rockfalls and more ash clouds from above Puʻu ʻŌʻō and Halemaʻumaʻu crater.
USGS continues to warn about the possible health risks brought by volcanic gas being emitted from the fissure vents. Smoke from burning houses and asphalts is another health concern.