Mandatory evacuation ordered as Hawaii eruption hits 4-week mark

A lava flow from the Kilauea volcano illuminates the night sky in the Leilani Estates near Pahoa Hawaii U.S

A lava flow from the Kilauea volcano illuminates the night sky in the Leilani Estates near Pahoa Hawaii U.S

Officials say there was no release of any risky hydrogen sulfide gas after lava crept over the plugged wells Sunday.

Since the first eruption occurred in the Leilani Estates subdivision on the evening of Thursday, May 3, emergency officials believe almost 2,500 residents have been forced to evacuate as lava, flowing from numerous volcanic fissures, consumes everything in its path.

After a month of continual eruptions at Kilauea's summit and along its eastern flank, geologists say they have no idea how much longer it will last.

"This is the hottest lava we've seen during this eruption", Wendy Stovall, a scientist with USGS told CNN affiliate Hawaii News Now.

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A mandatory evacuation order was issued Thursday night for a portion of the Leilani Estates subdivision as "vigorous lava eruptions" threaten more homes, the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said.

"You are at risk of being isolated due to possible lava inundation", the Hawaii County Civil Defence agency advised the public. At least 51 homes have been destroyed since the volcanic emergency began, and more than 2,000 people have fled the area.

On Wednesday, Fissure 8 fueled a river of lava that traveled nearly a half-mile in 80 minutes, according to the Civil Defense Agency.

Aerial observations from the U.S. Geological Survey on Wednesday morning showed lava from a fissure within 0.65 miles (1.04 kilometers) of Highway 137 and was advancing at about 100 yards (91.44 meters) per hour. "I've got close friends in Leilani, which we helped evacuate a couple weeks ago, and now it's our turn".

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If lava flows across highway 137, there will be no way out.

On top of all that, the USGS said ash was still erupting intermittently from Kilauea's summit.

Winds are set to shift on Monday and Tuesday, causing higher concentrations of ash and volcanic smog that will spread west and north-west to affect more populated areas, said National Weather Service meteorologist John Bravender. Other hazards of lava effusion at the fissure besides destructive lava flows are high levels of sulphur dioxide near the vents (up to 12.4 ppm) and Pele's hair and other lightweight volcanic glass that forms from high fountaining of Fissure 8 and falls out downwind. The facility produces roughly one-quarter of the Big Island's daily energy supply. Since Kilauea's massive eruption May 3, more than 2,000 earthquakes have struck in and around Big Island. If the cracks on Highway 130 would become larger or lava flows would cut off this road, the Chain of Craters Road would be the evacuation road for around 1000 people living in Kalapana southwest of the now active fissure system.

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