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Lava from Hawaii’s volcano reaches sea, creates toxic cloud

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Updated: 05:07 GMT, May 23, 2018 | Published: 04:41 GMT, May 22, 2018 |
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Volcano

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano has created a potentially deadly new hazard for local residents as lava flows pouring into the Pacific Ocean Sunday could produce noxious clouds of acid fumes, steam and fine glass-like particles.

The Hawaii County Civil Defense warned the public to beware of caustic plumes of “laze” formed from two streams of hot lava gushing into the ocean after cutting across Highway 137 on the south coast of the Big Island late Saturday and early Sunday.

The laze – a term combining the words lava and haze – from the plume extended as far as 24 km west of where the lava met the sea. It was just offshore and running parallel to the coast.

Laze killed two people immediately adjacent to the coastal entry point in 2000, said the U.S. Geological Survey. Scientists said even a wisp can irrigate the skin and eyes and cause breathing problems.

Frankie Stapleton, a local resident, said they have not experienced such an eruption for decades.

“We had a fissure eruption in a populated area, which had not happened since 1960. When this eruption started on January 3, 1983, it started up way far away from any population. This having the fissures – 24 fissures open up in a community that has more than doubled in size since the last community was effected,” she said.

Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has been erupting continuously since January 1983. It started erupting over two weeks ago and has burned dozens of homes, leading to the evacuation of thousands of people.

As most insurance companies do not cover houses near the volcano, many residents who lost their homes in the disaster will face some financial difficulties to rebuild their houses.

It will take long before the lava stops flowing and solidifies – waiting it out is the only option for now.

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