Hawaii volcano destroys over two dozen homes, more threatened

Leilani Estates (United States) (AFP) –


More than two dozen homes have been destroyed and dozens more are threatened by red-hot lava seeping from the Kilauea volcano, the most active in Hawaii, civil defense officials said.

Evacuation orders remained in place Monday for hundreds of residents of the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens areas in the eastern part of Hawaii's Big Island.

Hawaii's Civil Defense Agency, in its latest update, said 26 homes have been destroyed by lava oozing up from fissures in the ground.

Aerial footage showed orange streams of lava snaking through the Leilani Estates neighborhood, covering streets and igniting small fires.

Residents of Leilani Estates were allowed to return to their homes on Sunday between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm to check on their properties and remove belongings.

But residents were warned to be ready to flee at a moment's notice.

"Because of unstable conditions that involve toxic gas, earthquakes and lava activities, lines of safety can change at any time," the Civil Defense Agency said.

"The high levels of sulfur dioxide are a threat to all who become exposed," it said.

- 'Spirit of ALOHA is alive' -

Among those who lost their homes was Amber Makuakane.

A GoFundMe page was set up to raise money for the 37-year-old elementary school teacher and single mother of two young children.

As of Monday morning, more than $29,000 had been raised for Makuakane, whose parents also live in the Leilani Estates area and have also been forced to flee their home.

Makuakane thanked the donors on the page saying "my heart is full of gratitude for each and everyone of you."

"It is true that the spirit of ALOHA is alive and well," she said.

Aloha is a traditional Hawaiian greeting that also conveys love.

Ten fissures in the ground have opened up so far, according to the Civil Defense Agency, spewing out lava and hazardous fumes.

Lava fountains have been observed spouting as high as 230 feet (70 meters) into the air.

Kilauea, which rises to 4,091 feet (1,247 meters), began erupting Thursday afternoon.

A magnitude 5 earthquake under Kilauea's south flank preceded an initial eruption and there have been several severe aftershocks since then.

A quake Friday was measured at magnitude 6.9, the most powerful to hit the islands since 1975.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said satellites had detected a gradual sinking of ground around the volcano summit in the two weeks before the first quake.

Kilauea -- which according to Hawaiian folklore is home to Pele, the volcano goddess -- saw nearly continuous activity during the 19th century.

It is one of five currently active volcanoes on the archipelago's Big Island.