Fountains of Lava From Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Spew Up to 230 Feet High, Destroying Nine Homes After 2,000 Residents Were Forced to Evacuate and Toxic Fumes Fill the Air

Lava from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is being spewed 230 feet into the air – the height of a 23-story building –  as the number of homes destroyed climbs to nine.

The eruption has forced nearly 2,000 people to evacuate given the sulfur dioxide gas threatening to harm anyone who remained in the area.

No injuries have been reported but at least nine homes were destroyed on Hawaii’s Big Island when lava started shooting out of openings in the ground after being triggered by a magnitude 6.9 earthquake last week.

U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall said that lava was spewing as high as 230 feet into the air Saturday night.

Hawaii County civil defense officials said two new fissures opened overnight, bringing the total to nine that opened in the neighborhood since Thursday. Only one vent had active lava flow, as of Saturday night around 9.30pm, said Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder.

Scientists said Kilauea was likely to release more lava through additional vents, but they were unable to predict exactly where.

Leilani Estates, a subdivision in the mostly rural district of Puna, is at greatest risk. Authorities ordered more than 1,700 residents to evacuate from there and nearby Lanipuna Gardens.

Video footage showed orange magma gushing up from cracks in the ground and snaking through a wooded area.

Molten lava could also be seen bubbling up through cracks on residential streets.

Hundreds of small earthquakes continued to rumble through the area on Saturday, one day after a magnitude-6.9 temblor hit – the largest earthquake to hit Hawaii in more than 40 years.

Magma moving through Kilauea set off the earthquakes, said geologists, who warned of aftershocks.

Authorities cautioned sulfuric gas pouring out of the vents also posed dangers, particularly to elderly and people with respiratory problems.

Hawaii County spokeswoman Kanani Aton said some residents may be allowed to return home briefly to pick up medicine or take care of pets if sulfur dioxide levels drop as a result of the calming vents.

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Source: Daily Mail