Eruption Digest For June 5: Magnitude 5.5 Earthquake, Kapoho Bay Fills

Eruption Digest For June 5: Magnitude 5.5 Earthquake, Kapoho Bay Fills

Lava from Hawaii's erupting Kilauea volcano has destroyed more than 150 homes in a rural Big Island district, including that of Big Island Mayor Harry Kim.

While dozens of quakes in the magnitude-2 and -3 range have occurred since the volcano began spewing ash and lava a month ago, Sunday's 5.5-magnitude natural disaster is the largest since.

At the Kilauea summit, another explosion occurred early Tuesday morning, accompanied by a 5.5 magnitude quake.

County officials said in a news release that there is no access to Kapoho and Vacationland along Highway 132 or Highway 137 because of the lava flow.

The site marked the latest challenge facing authorities during what geologists call an unprecedented, simultaneous eruption at Kilauea's summit and from giant fissures 25 miles (40 km) down its eastern side.

Lava sends up clouds of steam and toxic gases when it hits the Pacific Ocean as Kilauea Volcano continues its eruption cycle. "Period", county spokeswoman Janet Snyder told reporters.

Snyder said Kapoho Bay is nearly completely filled with lava, with the flow from fissure 8 protruding 0.7 miles into the bay.

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While local first responders searched for people trapped in their homes in isolated areas, Hawaii County Civil Defense reported that fewer than a dozen refused evacuation in an area electrical power, water and telephone service are inoperable.

At least 87 homes have been destroyed by the Kilauea volcano eruption in the four weeks since lava began flowing, Hawaii Civil Defense spokesman Talmadge Magno said Friday. The crew landed and confirmed the three people had no cellphone reception. Kahele said the devastation in the area was unprecedented.

Thousands of people in the Puna district have had to evacuate.

UPDATE (8:20 a.m.) - USGS reported on Tuesday morning that "the northernmost lobe of the Fissure 8 flow, in the Noni Farms Road area, advanced downslope about 200 yards overnight".

Hawaii Civil Defense warned residents to avoid contact with the "laze" steam, which can contain hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass particles. Police on Monday said a man sped through a checkpoint near an intersection where lava was approaching. He faces charges that include refusing to evacuate and reckless driving.

In addition, at over four weeks, this eruption has lasted longer than the 1955 and 1924 eruptions, the USGS said.

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