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Volcanoes

Watch: Hawaii volcano’s new fissure creates 70-metre lava fountain as temporary return mooted for evacuees

The gushing lava reached 70 metres high just 15 minutes after they began, an expert said

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 May, 2018, 6:13am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 May, 2018, 8:19am

This is the shocking moment that a small spattering of lava from a fissure on Hawaii’s Big Island became a series terrifying fountains of molten rock, some 70 metres high.

US Geological Survey vulcanologist Wendy Stovall said the lava fountains from Kilauea volcano reached their maximum height just 15 minutes after the initial eruption began from the new fissure on Saturday night. At least 21 homes have been destroyed.

Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder said only one fissure has active lava flowing, though at last count a total of nine vents had opened up as of 9.30pm.

Snyder said it’s all part of a small chain of events and that these “breakouts” are following a path.

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She said the plan remains to allow some evacuated residents to return to Leilani Estates to retrieve important items, though that is subject to change.

The announcement came after Big Island civil defence officials said on Sunday morning that two new fissures have emerged in the Leilani Estates subdivision.

That brings the total of fissures to 10 since the eruption began late Thursday afternoon, but a scientist with the US Geological Survey said one of those vents has gone dormant.

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Officials said active venting of lava and dangerous levels of volcanic gases continue between two main roads in the subdivision, where more than 1,700 people have been ordered to evacuate.

Some residents may be allowed to complete evacuation of pets, get medicine and grab vital documents, they added.

The number of homes destroyed by the volcano rose to nine as many evacuees prepared for the eruption to last for weeks or even months.

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Scientists say Kilauea is likely to release more lava through more vents, but they’re unable to forecast exactly where the lava will appear.

The Leilani Estates area is at the greatest risk for more lava outbreaks.