The number of lava-shooting Hawaiian ground fissures climbed to 18 Sunday, forcing more residents on the state’s Big Island to flee their homes.
Scientists have warned in recent days that more eruptions could eventually cause the Kilauea volcano’s summit to blast —blanketing the region in ash and sending massive boulders into the sky.
Roughly 2,000 residents have been displaced in the Leilani Estates area since volcanic activity began in the rural Puna district more than a week ago.
The latest fissure came along Hale Kamahina Loop Road, just west of the heavily used Highway 132, the Hawaii County Civil Defense agency said Sunday.
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Authorities have reportedly knocked on doors along that street to have residents evacuate their homes.
Residents and their pets were encouraged to take shelter in two nearby community centers.
A stretch of Highway 132 was also shutdown Sunday, CBS affiliate KGMB reported, out of concern another fissure will open there.
Resident David Ellis told the news channel a day earlier that “our greatest danger is being cut off” when the highway eventually shuttered.
The massive cracks stretch several hundred yards, shoot lava hundreds of feet into the air and emit potentially poisonous gases.
On Saturday, a 16th and a 17th fissure opened on Big Island following a short lull in volcanic activity.
The fissures have sent molten rocks into neighborhoods, sometimes with flows of lava that have engulfed roughly two dozen homes, along with cars and other structures. The 17th fissure was only spewing lava when it cracked open late Saturday.
Scientists have warned that the massive cracks are lowering the lava lake at Kileau’s summit.
The lake could blow if it dips to a certain point, sending rocks as heavy as 12 tons into the air.
President Trump opened Hawaii up to federal aid over the weekend, declaring a major disaster in the state.
Hawaiian official estimate it’ll cost nearly $3 billion to protect residents from the volcanic chaos over the next month.
With News Wire Services