Lava destroys 82 structures as eruptions continue in Hawaii

By Susan McFarland  |  May 26, 2018 at 3:31 PM
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May 26 (UPI) -- The number of structures destroyed by Kilauea's volcanic lava climbed to 82 on Friday, up from 50 earlier this week, as firefighters go door-to-door in Leilani Estates urging residents who remain to leave.

Authorities expect that number to increase as eruptions continue on Kilauea's lower east rift zone. Officials warned that fissures no. 7 and 21 are feeding a flow that is threatening more homes.

"We've had so much activity in the last few days," said Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno during a news conference. "We probably got more [homes destroyed] because more structures were taken out in the last 24 hours."

The U.S. Marine Corps sent two helicopters to help with evacuations if necessary, as hundreds of those already evacuated watch and wait, hoping their homes will be spared.

The helicopters can each carry up to 43 passengers and together can evacuate about 400 people in four hours, said Maj. David Bachta, commander of troops for the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463.

Many homes also are suffering structural damage from widening cracks in the earth, formed when magma flowing under the earth deforms the land.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump declared Hawaii a disaster zone, clearing the way for federal funding assistance in light of the series of earthquakes that have shook the Big Island since May 3, sparking multiple eruptions of lava and volcanic ash.

On Monday as lava from the volcano approached the ocean, the Hawaii Volcano Observatory warned of "laze," or lava haze, produced when hot lava reacts to cold sea water, bringing a dense plume of steam, hydrochloric acid and fine shards of glass into the air.

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