Hawaii helicopter evacuation readied as new lava stream hits ocean

Hawaii helicopter evacuation readied as new lava stream hits ocean

Eruptions on Hawaii's big island are now entering the fourth week and one of the world's most active volcanoes is showing no sign of quieting down.

The methane is produced when vegetation is burned by the lava, scientists said.

Authorities were racing Tuesday to close off production wells at a geothermal plant threatened by a lava flow from Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island.

Photos published on Wednesday by the US Geological Survey show the flames spouting from cracks in the pavement in the Leilani Estates neighbourhood, which has been worst affected by the surges of lava.

Creeping Lava Now Threatens Major Hawaiian Power Plant

When the hot lava flow hits the water it produces acid fumes known as "laze" - lava and haze.

The gas "can seep into subsurface voids and explode when heated" or "emerge from cracks in the ground several feet away".

Even on the Big Island, home of Kilauea, Ige says "the one area that people need to avoid is lower Puna where the eruption is ongoing".

Officials say almost 50 structures, including dozens of houses, have been destroyed since fissures began opening up in backyards on May 3. "It's the first time, maybe the second time I've seen the blue flames thing".

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Some of the pooling lava approached the Puna Geothermal Venture plant earlier this week, where it came within 1,000 feet of underground wells containing toxic hydrogen sulfide gas.

The US Marine Corps deployed two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters to Hilo, about 24 miles north (39 miles), in support of a task force standing by in case an air evacuation is needed. He said he has a lung disease and air quality was getting too poor after lava entered the ocean upwind of his home. A flammable gas called pentane is used as part of the process, though officials earlier this month removed 50,000 gallons (190,000 liters) of the gas from the plant to reduce the chance of explosions.

The middle portion of the fissure system (centered on Pohoiki Rd.) continues to produce the most robust eruptive activity in the Lower East Rift Zone.

But on Wednesday evening, the agency announced that the situation at the energy plant "remains stable, lava has not encroached further onto PGV property".

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At least 44 homes and other structures have been destroyed, and a man was seriously injured on Saturday when a chunk of lava shot out of a fissure and struck him in the leg.

Tourism officials cheered news that a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship that tours the Hawaiian Islands would resume stopping in Kailua-Kona next week.

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