Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is continuing to cause headaches with new fissures being identified, causing local residents to stay away from their homes.
Emergency authorities are battling lava flows and gas eruptions that have already claimed at least 35 houses and forced 1700 people to leave the area.
Residents of a second area, Lanipuna Gardens, were barred from returning home on Monday due to deadly volcanic gases.
Leilani Estates, some 19km from the volcano, was evacuated due to the risk of sulphur dioxide gas, which can be life threatening at high levels.
“Please, the residents of Leilani need our help. This is not the time for sightseeing. You can help tremendously by staying out of the area,” the Hawaii County Civil Defence Agency said in a statement.
So far no fatalities or major injuries have been reported, although property damage is extensive.
#BREAKING #LeilaniEstatesEruption: USGS is tracking what appears to be 2 new volcanic fissures in #LeilaniEstates on Malama Street near Alapai Street. Eruptions in the subdivision have already destroyed 35 structures, including 26 homes. @HawaiiNewsNow (Video: DB Photo Gallery) pic.twitter.com/GLYOvMLrOV
— Mileka Lincoln (@MilekaLincoln) May 8, 2018
Evacuees from Leilani Estates were allowed to return for pets, medications and to check property on Sunday, but some like Jeremy Wilson found homes surrounded by fissures.
“My house is right in the middle,” said Wilson, who turned back in his car when he saw steam coming from cracks in the road ahead.
One motorist was not so lucky, with time lapse footage emerging online of an abandoned car being consumed by the lava flow.
The semi-rural wooded area of Leilani Estates had become a magnet for newcomers to Hawaii’s Big Island who were prepared to risk living near to an active volcano in return for more affordable real-estate prices.
The renewed activity was prompted by Friday’s 6.9 magnitude earthquake, the largest in the area since 1975, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
Geologists said the activity looked like an event in 1955 when eruptions continued for 88 days in the area and covered a large area with lava.