Man injured by Kilauea spatter

Lava flows near a house on the outskirts of Pahoa
Lava flows near a house on the outskirts of Pahoa
Image: Reuters

A stream of lava blocked a Hawaii highway yesterday that serves as an escape route for coastal residents, while the first known serious injury was reported from fresh explosive eruptions from the Kilauea volcano.

A homeowner on Noni Farms Road who was on a third-floor balcony, had his leg shattered from his shin to his foot when hit by lava spatter, a spokeswoman for the office of the mayor, County of Hawaii, Janet Snyder, said.

As magma destroyed four more homes, molten rock from two huge cracks merged into a single stream, threatening to block other escape routes and touching off brush fires.

The erupting lava, which can reach a blistering 1 093°C, crossed Highway 137 and sent lava flowing into the ocean.

That prompted warnings of laze – clouds of hydrochloric acid and steam embedded with fine glass particles formed when hot lava hits ocean water.

Authorities were trying yesterday to open up a road that was blocked by lava in 2014 to serve as an alternative escape route, Jessica Ferracane, of the National Park Service, said.

The Hawaii National Guard has warned of mandatory evacuations if more roads become blocked. But officials went from house to house in the area to urge more residents to flee, Snyder said, though no head count of the new evacuation was available yesterday.
For weeks, geologists have warned that hotter, fresher magma from Kilauea’s summit would run underground and emerge about 40km east in the lower Puna district, where older, cooler lava has already destroyed 44 homes and other structures.

“Summit magma has arrived,” US Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall said on a conference call.

“There is much more stuff coming out of the ground and it’s going to produce flows that will move much further away.”

Fountains of bright orange lava were seen spouting at least 6m high and spewing rivers of molten rock yesterday.

Operational geologist at the Hawaii Volcano Authority Carolyn Pearcheta said that hotter and more viscous lava could be on the way, with fountains spurting as high as 182m, as seen in a 1955 eruption.

Scientists expect a series of eruptions from Kilauea that could spread ash and volcanic smog across the Big Island, the southernmost of the Hawaiian archipelago.

That could pose a huge hazard to aircraft if it blows into their routes at about 9 144m. – Reuters