Hawaii volcano lava destroys hundreds of homes overnight

HOLLYN JOHNSON  Tribune-Herald Lava from fissure No. 8 oozes toward Kapoho Bay on Sunday in lower Puna. Special thanks to Blue Hawaiian Helicopters

Terrifying new aerial photos show a growing river of molten rock flowing from a fissure at the foot of Kilauea Volcano destroying homes on Hawaii's Big Island.

While no-one has been killed and only one lava-related injury has been reported, the number of destroyed homes dwarfs other recent American eruptions.

The county managing director Wil Okabe said his own vacation home in Kapoho Beach Lots was also threatened.

Hawaii Civil Defense Service officials said they went through the neighborhood to warn residents this was their last chance to evacuate before their final escape route was cut off by lava. Lava pouring into the ocean there has completely filled in the bay, extending almost a mile (1.6 km) out from what had been the shoreline, USGS scientists said.

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. The destruction is the largest number of destroyed homes since the eruption began last month. Hundreds are now staying in emergency shelters.

They didn't expect the lava flow to head their way.

Lava has covered almost 20.7 square kilometres of landscape as of Monday - an area about the size of the island nation of Nauru.

Ige is coming to Hilo Thursday to meet with Kim, Snyder said, and the main focus will be on fast-tracking temporary housing.

Separately, a mandatory evacuation zone remains in place for about half of lava-ravaged Leilani Estates.

The two communities, comprising a quiet vacation spot once popular for its snorkeling and tide pools, sat at the edge of a small, shallow inlet called Kapoho Bay. This doesn't mean all homes were affected, but authorities will have to count and match the areas with property maps. Okabe estimated there are several hundred homes in each of the two subdivisions. "It's a lovely spot", she said Monday. "It's hard because obviously a lot of people have lost a lot more than just a handsome place to visit and memories".

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