Tuesday 23 December 2014

Alert as lava heads to Hawaii homes

Published 05/09/2014 | 11:46

Lava streams from the Kilauea volcano in Pahoa, Hawaii (AP)
Lava streams from the Kilauea volcano in Pahoa, Hawaii (AP)

Residents in rural Hawaii are keeping a nervous eye on a lava flow that is moving 800 feet a day towards their community.

Lava from the Kilauea volcano is less than a mile from Kaohe Homesteads and could reach it in five to seven days if it continues on its current path, geologists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said, raising the alert level to a warning.

It was not immediately clear how many homes could be affected.

However, the observatory said predicting a lava flow's exact path can be difficult because of subtle variations in topography, changes in lava volume and how lava enters or exits ground cracks.

The isolated agricultural region is part of the Big Island's Puna district, where Tropical Storm Iselle toppled trees and knocked out power last month.

Hawaii County Civil Defence Administrator Darryl Oliveira said the agency has not yet ordered an evacuation but mayor Billy Kenoi has declared an emergency, which allows authorities to restrict access to roads.

The Kilauea volcano has been continuously erupting since 1983, but new vents - or points where lava reaches the surface - have opened periodically.

Lava from the volcano wiped out neighbourhoods in 1990.

Press Association

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