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Hawaii Lava Opens Third Flow Into Ocean

Residents braced for more evacuations if lava crosses key highways
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 25, 2018 12:25 PM CDT
In this May 23, 2018 photo, lava erupts in the air in Leilani Estates area near Pahoa, Hawaii.   (George F. Lee/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP)
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(Newser) – Lava has entered the ocean from a third flow, marking the third week of a Hawaii volcano eruption that has opened up nearly two dozen vents in rural communities, destroyed dozens of buildings, and shot miles-high plumes of ash into the sky. Low lava fountains were erupting from a nearly continuous 2-mile-long portion of the series of fissures that have opened up in the ground, scientists said. The fountains were feeding channelized lava flows down to the coast, reports the AP. Since the eruption began on May 3, Hawaii County has ordered about 2,000 people to evacuate from Leilani Estates and surrounding neighborhoods. Hawaii officials have said they may need to evacuate a thousand more people if lava crosses key highways and isolates communities in the mostly rural part of the island where the Kilauea volcano is erupting.

A blocked highway would cut people off from the only route to grocery stores, schools, and hospitals. The US Marine Corps said Thursday that it has sent two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters from a base near Honolulu to help if more evacuations become necessary. Intermittent explosions at the summit that have been sending plumes of ash into the sky. On Wednesday, the volcano belched a plume that reached about 7,000 feet, scientists said. Right before the explosion, there was a 3.9 magnitude earthquake at the summit. "We are kind of in this steady state," said Wendy Stovall, a scientist at the US Geographical Survey. There's no indication about whether lava volume will increase or decrease, she said. The continued explosions are expected to "last a little while longer." Watch eerie blue flames here.

(Read more volcano stories.)

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