Deadly lava is tearing through Hawaii as the Kilauea volcano's violent eruption continues - here are the latest images
U.S. Geological Survey via AP, file
Beyond the immediate fire danger from the lava, high levels of sulfur dioxide spewing from the volcano pose a serious threat to children, elderly people, and people with respiratory issues, the United States Geological Survey said.
The ongoing eruptions have severely impacted Hawaii's tourism-driven economy, and have forced over 2,000 people to evacuate their homes.
Here's what it looks like on the ground:
Kilauea erupted again early Tuesday morning, spewing more ash and lava on Hawaii's Big Island.
The eruption has been escalating for weeks as lava from the volcano has destroyed homes and properties near the volcano.
The flows release toxic gases like sulfur dioxide, which can pose respiratory problems — especially for children and the elderly.
More than 20 active fissures have broken open, oozing lava all over the Big Island and into the Pacific Ocean.
Lava flows can quickly scorch everything in their path.
When the lava enters the ocean, it creates new hazards for marine life and local residents.
Dangerous plumes of laze — a combination of the words lava and haze — are rising as the lava comes into contact with ocean water.
Faced with the volcanic heat, sea water gets boiled. That creates a mix of hydrochloric acid, steam, and tiny glass particles, which can cause respiratory issues.
USGS geologist Janet Babb told Reuters that laze plumes from the Kilauea eruption could extend as far as 15 miles
The lava flows are threatening the Puna Geothermal Venture Plant, with the lava stalled only 300 yards from the plant as of Tuesday morning, reports USA Today. If the lava breaches the plant, it could release hydrogen sulfide into the air — a flammable gas.
In some areas, the lava is piled up over 40 feet high.
The flows also have disastrous consequences for Hawaii's tourism-driven economy. Bookings for hotels on the Big Island have dropped around 50% since the eruptions started on May 3, according to Reuters.
Nearly 300 residents whose homes are affected by the ongoing eruptions are staying at Red Cross shelters, CNN reports. Over 2,000 people have been evacuated since the eruptions began.
"My house was an offering for Pele," Monica Devlin, a local resident whose home was destroyed by the flows told The New York Times. "It's an awe-inspiring process of destruction and creation and I was lucky to glimpse it." Pele is a native Hawaiian deity that many believe is responsible for the volcanic eruptions.
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