Hawaii volcano eruption: Lava hits ocean as first serious injury reported | News | DW | 20.05.2018
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Hawaii volcano eruption: Lava hits ocean as first serious injury reported

Lava from the erupting Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has now blocked a highway and entered the ocean, officials said. A man was also seriously injured after his leg was struck by lava.

Over two weeks after the Kilauea volcano began sending poisonous gas and lava into neighborhoods on Hawaii's Big Island, the lava began flowing into the ocean late Saturday.

Officials also warned that the lava has cut off a key highway and cautioned residents to stay far away from the molten rock as it hits the ocean.

Read moreWhy risk living on a volcano like Kilauea?

Where is the lava now?

  • Officials are currently tracking at least three flows of lava, two of which have entered the ocean.
  • One lava stream blocked Highway 137 while the other is only a few hundred meters away. The highway serves as an escape route for residents living on the coast of the Big Island.
  • Authorities have closed the highway at certain points and were working on Sunday to clear another road that had been previously blocked by lava in 2014 to serve as an alternative escape route.
  • The National Guard in Hawaii has warned it may issue mandatory evacuations if more roads in the area become blocked.
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First eruption-related injury: A man sustained serious injuries to his leg after he was hit with lava while sitting on a third-floor balcony. The so-called lava spatter — airborne molten rock — shattered the man's leg from his shin down to his foot.

Janet Snyder, a Hawaii County spokesperson, said that so-called lava spatters "can weigh as much as a refrigerator and even small pieces of spatter can kill."

Steer clear of 'laze':  The Hawaii County Civil Defense warned residents not to go near the lava that is currently hitting the ocean, as it produces hazardous "laze." The phenomenon sends "hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles into the air" and can cause lung damage as well as eye and skin irritation.

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Watch video 01:11
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01:11 mins.

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupts, forcing evacuations

New eruption: Around midnight, another large explosion occurred at the volcano's summit, sending up an ash plume that was nearly two miles (3.2 kilometers) high. An earlier eruption produced a 9,000 meter ash plume. Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanos whose erupting lava can reach up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,093 degrees Celsius). The lava streams have already destroyed 44 homes and buildings.

No signs of slowing down: Geologists have warned that hotter and fresher magma may be on the way. They've said the fresher, hotter magma from Kilauea's summit could run underground and emerge 25 miles away in the lower Puna district where dozens of homes have already been destroyed by older, cooler lava.

Watch video 03:53
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03:53 mins.

Lava tour guide John Tarson in Hawaii speaking after the Kilauea volcano eruption

rs/jm (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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