PAHOA, Hawaii (CBSNewYork/AP) — Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano destroyed 26 homes and spewed lava hundreds of feet into the air, leaving evacuated residents unsure how long they might be displaced.
In revised figures Sunday, Hawaii County officials said another four unspecified structures were covered by lava.
Hawaii officials said the decimated homes were in the Leilani Estates subdivision, where molten rock, toxic gas and steam have been bursting through openings in the ground created by the volcano.
“The prognosis is for this to continue,” said Tina Neal, scientist-in-charge for the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. “We see no slow down in activity. Our seismic and geometric data coming from the region still indicate magma accumulating.”
Some of the more than 1,700 residents who have been evacuated were allowed to briefly return to gather medicine, pets, and other necessities.
Officials say residents would be able to do so each day until further notice as authorities monitor which areas are safe.
Amber Makuakane Kane, 37, a teacher and single mother of two, said her three-bedroom house in Leilani Estates was destroyed by lava.
The dwelling was across from a fissure that opened Friday, when “there was some steam rising from all parts of the yard, but everything looked fine,” Makuakane said.
On Saturday, she received alerts from her security system that motion sensors throughout the house had been triggered. She later confirmed that lava had covered her property.
Makuakane grew up in the area and lived in her house for nine years. Her parents also live in Leilani Estates.
“The volcano and the lava — it’s always been a part of my life,” she said. “It’s devastating … but I’ve come to terms with it.”
Sam Knox lives about a hundred yards away from one of the eruptions.
“It’s like a Goliath, like a roaring jet engine,” he said.
Lava has spread around 387,500 square feet surrounding the most active fissure, though the rate of movement is slow. There was no indication when the lave might stop or how far it might spread.
“There’s more magma in the system to be erupted. As long as that supply is there, the eruption will continue,” USGS volcanologist Wendy Stovall said.
About 250 people and 90 pets spent Saturday night at shelters, the American Red Cross said.
The number of lava-venting fissures in the neighborhood grew overnight from eight to as many as 10, Stovall said, though some have quieted at various points. Regardless, USGS scientists expect fissures to keep spewing.
The lava could eventually be channeled to one powerful vent while others go dormant, as has happened in some previous Hawaii eruptions, Stovall said.
Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has been erupting continuously since 1983.
The USGS’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory issued a notice in mid-April that there were signs of pressure building in underground magma, and a new vent could form on the cone or along what’s known as the East Rift Zone. Leilani Estates sits along the zone.
The crater floor began to collapse Monday, triggering earthquakes and pushing lava into new underground chambers that carried it toward Leilani Estates and nearby communities. A magnitude-6.9 earthquake — Hawaii’s largest in more than 40 years — hit the area Friday.
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