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Thousands Flee as Hawaii’s Volcano Destroys At Least 26 Homes

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano spewed rivers of molten lava that leapt up to 230 feet (70 meters) into the air.

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Thousands of Hawaiians were forced to flee after repeated eruptions of the Kilauea volcano destroyed at least 26 homes while spewing lava and fountains of toxic gases into residential areas, on Saturday, 5 May. Kilauea is the state's most active volcano.

More lava fissures and vents opened overnight in the Leilani Estates area, where lava leapt up to 230 feet (70 meters) into the air.

So far, no fatalities or major injuries have been reported from the volcanic region, Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said.

It was roaring sky high, it was incredible. It was fuming, it was roaring, it was thundering,rocks were flying out of the ground. And it only took probably from six o’clock in the morning (1600 GMT)to nine o’clock in the morning (1900 GMT) to fill that whole area up with lava. Three or four hours only.
Sam Knox, Resident of Leilani Estates
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Nearly 2,000 people who were forced to evacuate their homes when the eruptions began were allowed to return during a 10-hour window, although some neighbourhoods remained off-limits due to dangerous volcanic gases.

"This is not the time for sightseeing," the civil defense agency said on social media, urging others to stay away from the community about a dozen miles (19 km) from where the Kilauea volcano erupted on Thursday.

Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes and one of five on the island, has been in constant eruption for 35 years. It predominantly erupts basaltic lava in effusive eruptions that mostly flow into the ocean but occasionally experiences explosive eruptions.
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Soon after the volcanic eruption, a powerful magnitude 6.9 earthquake, the strongest tremor since 1975 hit the southeast corner of the island. More earthquakes and eruptions along with outbreaks of lava, which can reach temperatures of about 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit (1,150 Celsius) are expected in the months to come.

The rest of the island, in the meantime, continue to conduct business as usual with no impacts on flights or tourism, state officials said.

"The area where lava is coming to the surface is very far from resort areas," said George Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

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(With inputs from Reuters)

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