The Kilauea volcano has erupted again, spewing toxic gases out of two new vents and prompting authorities to call for an immediate evacuation of residents from a second neighbourhood on the Big Island.
The County of Hawaii Civil Defense Agency issued an emergency bulletin ordering residents of the Lanipuna Gardens area on the east side of the island to leave their homes.
“Hawaiian Volcano Observatory confirms 2 new vents. All Lanipuna residents must evacuate now,” the agency said in its bulletin on Wednesday, adding that the two vents had opened near two road intersections and were “actively erupting”.
Earlier on Tuesday residents of the hardest hit area, Leilani Estates, drove through clouds of sulphur and over cracked roads to make desperate and possibly last visits home before another eruption by Kilauea, which has already destroyed 35 homes and other structures.
David Nail, who recently sold his business and moved to Lelani Estates from Orange County, California after his wife was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease, said a six metre wall of lava blocked him from getting close enough to see if his house had been destroyed.
“All we could do was sit there and cry,” Nail said.
Earlier in the day US Army veteran Delance Weigel, 71, collected some of his prized possessions as steam and sulphur dioxide gas rose out of cracks in the street.
“The way it looks now, I thought I’d try one more time to get my things out,” Weigel said. “Whether we lose our home or not, we’ll see. But we’re definitely going to be cut off. You move to paradise, then this happens.”
No deaths or major injuries have been reported since Kilauea, which has been in a state of nearly constant eruption since 1983, began a series of major explosions on Thursday, spewing fountains of lava as high as 90 metres into the air and deadly volcanic gas up through cracks in the earth.
Kilauea predominantly pours basaltic lava flows into the ocean, but occasionally experiences more explosive events such as the one that began last week.
Some 1,700 residents were ordered to leave Leilani Estates, where lava has been bubbling out of some four kilometres of fissures in the ground emanating from Kilauea lava tunnels on the eastern side of the Big Island.