Lava destroys hundreds of homes overnight in Hawaii

Hawaii volcano update

REUTERSHawaii volcano update Molten lava continues to surge into the streets

Hundreds of homes on Hawaii's Big Island have been destroyed from lava oozing from the Kilauea volcano after an early morning explosion on Tuesday, according to officials.

The final phase of the evacuation was carried out late Friday and early Saturday by fire and police department personnel, with help from the Hawaii National Guard and public works teams, county civil defense spokeswoman Janet Snyder told Reuters by email.

Lava also began flowing into the Kapoho Tide Pools overnight, destroying the popular snorkeling destination, Snyder said.

"For us it's more of a vacation area, but for those who live there permanently, they're trying to figure out where they're going to be living", he said. They stopped to inquire of their situation, and then when asked, airlifted them to a safe place.

A morning overflight confirmed that lava completely filled Kapoho Bay, inundated most of Vacationland and covered all but the northern part of Kapoho Beach Lots, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

Another 2,000 people have been evacuated from the Leilani Estates subdivision, an area further west, where dozens of homes have been devoured or cut off by rivers of red-hot molten rock streaming over the landscape since May 3.

Lava burned two buildings at the plant, a substation and a warehouse that stored a drilling rig, officials said.

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Earthquakes are still rattling the summit of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, after a magnitude 5.5 quake rocked the area Sunday. according to Hawaii County Civil Defense officials.

The USGS shared aerial footage showing the lava from Fissure 8 forming a delta in Kapoho Bay. "This is something most of us will never see in our lifetime", he said.

On the coast as the lava reaches the ocean it is sending up a large plume of what's known as laze - formed when lava reacts with seawater to form a mix of acid fumes, steam and glass-like specks.

Seaside residents and boaters also have been warned to avoid noxious clouds of laze - a term combining the words "lava" and "haze".

Lava erupts in May from a fissure in the Leilani Estates neighbourhood.

The monthlong eruption has claimed as much as a half of a forest reserve that's home to native birds and trees that have already been declining because of disease, state officials said.

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