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Hawaii Volcano Finds a Way to Get Worse

Kilauea injures man, flows dangerously into the ocean
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 20, 2018 12:24 PM CDT
Updated May 20, 2018 12:43 PM CDT
Brittany Kimball watches as lava erupts from from a fissure near Pahoa, Hawaii, Saturday, May 19, 2018.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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(Newser) – A volcano that is oozing, spewing, and exploding on Hawaii's Big Island has gotten more hazardous in recent days, with a river of molten rock flowing into the ocean and flying lava causing the first major injury, the AP reports. Kilauea volcano began erupting more than two weeks ago and has burned dozens of homes, forced people to flee, and shot up plumes of steam from its summit that led officials to distribute face masks to protect against ash particles. Lava flows have grown more vigorous in past days, spattering molten rock that hit a man in the leg. He was outside his home Saturday in the remote, rural region affected by the volcano when the lava "hit him on the shin, and shattered everything from there down on his leg," says a Hawaii County mayor spokeswoman.

Lava that's flying through the air from cracks in the Earth can weigh as much as a refrigerator and even small pieces can be lethal, officials say. The injury came the same day lava streamed across a highway and flowed into the ocean. The phenomenon sends hydrochloric acid and steam with glass particles into the air and can lead to lung, eye, and skin irritation, another danger for residents as the plume can shift with the wind, the Hawaii County Civil Defense agency says. The highway has shut down in some spots, and residents in the area have been evacuated. With the problems compounding, scientists can't say whether lava flows from nearly two dozen fissures will keep advancing or stop.

(Read more Hawaii stories.)

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