More than a dozen fissures have opened in and around Leilani Estates in Hawaii, prompting officials to issue a warning about the potential eruption of the Kilauea volcano.
For over 30 years, the Kilauea volcano, which is located in Hawaii’s Big Island, has been actively erupting. It didn’t pose any problem until a few weeks ago when a portion of its eastern flank collapsed. The incident drained the lava lake of the volcano into the surrounding parts of the island and, since then, has only gotten worse.
A report from CBS confirmed that a total of 17 volcanic fissures have opened up which includes one near the Puna Geothermal Venture conversion plant. An 18th fissure also opened over the weekend, but since no lava was seen spewing from it, the authorities only documented the 17 active fissures.
“Hawaii County Civil Defense officials urged residents of Halekamahina Loop Road to evacuate as well as two nearby community centers that were serving as shelters for people and pets. It was there that officials found the new fissure along the road. They numbered fissure 18, but later renamed it No. 17,” officials said.
“Popping, exploding and sloshing sounds could be heard from the fissure as far as 1,500 yards away. Observatory scientist Steve Brantley says this most recent fissure measures 1,000 feet but is not acting vigorously. There is some intermittent spatter but no substantial lava flow.”
The fissures have already caused devastation throughout the island. Molten rocks were reportedly bursting through the ground, destroying over two dozen homes and structures. Officials have also evacuated about 2,000 residents from affected areas.
On Sunday, the Hawaii Civil Defense Agency ordered vacation rentals located in the Lower Puna to cease operation. This is to relieve the need for water and reduce the population in the area, allowing responders to focus more on residents in case of emergency.
One concern right now is that residents could be trapped by lava flows, toxic fumes, and debris if the volcano erupts.
“We’ve got all the warning signs we need,” Steve Brantley, the deputy scientist-in-charge at the HVO, said in an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “There may not be any additional warning before the magma actually starts moving up to the surface.”