Hawaii volcano overwhelms neighborhood with river of molten misery


But Kilauea's activity ratcheted up considerably on May 3 after an quake rattled the region; lava began spilling from newly created fissures and spreading through neighborhoods, turning parts of the Big Island into disaster zones.

Darryl Clinton told the Honolulu television station KHON that he was on the roof of a home helping to put out fires from flying rocks when an explosion a couple hundred yards away launched a "lava bomb" his way.

Almost 50 structures have been destroyed by lava, including dozens of homes.

Hawaii volcano Kilauea eruption
GettyLava continues to spread itself across the island of Hawaii

Actually, Kilauea began erupting not on May 3 but in 1983.

This story has been corrected to show officials have finished stabilizing wells at the geothermal energy plant, but some still remain unplugged.

Hawaii governor David Ige said ten wells were "quenched", which cools them with enough cold water to counter the pressure of volcanic steam coming from below.

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One major potential hazard that appeared to have been brought under control was at the Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) plant, which provides about a quarter of the Big Island's electricity.

"The Puna Geothermal Venture had always been contentious on the island, the Associated Press reported, with some native Hawaiians saying that it desecrated Kilauea, where the goddess of fire, Pele, is said to live". There also were plans to install metal plugs in the wells as an additional stopgap measure.

Underscoring the eruption's dangers, a Hawaii man was hit by a flying piece of lava over the weekend and said the molten rock almost sheared his leg in half. Earlier this month, officials removed 50,000 gallons (190,000 liters) of the gas from the plant to reduce the chance of explosions. It hit him above the ankle. A friend wrapped a sheet around his leg and called for help.

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The latest explosive eruption at the Kilauea summit at around 1 a.m. (6 a.m. EST) sent a plume of ash over Hawaii's Big Island, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported in a statement.

Clinton said doctors saved his leg, but he must avoid putting weight on it for six weeks. Officials are concerned that "laze", a risky product produced when hot lava hits cool ocean water, will affect residents. The air, especially in the southern part of the island, is increasingly unsafe.

The molten rock started pouring into the sea over the weekend. GLISTIN was created to monitor ice sheets, but it can also detect changes in the Kilauea landscape caused by the outburst, agency officials said.

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano explodes into eruption
Due to elevated sulfur dioxide levels in the area, local schools are also closed, Hawaii County Civil Defense said. On Tuesday, a plume of ash from the volcano rose 12,000 feet into the air, dropping ash on sections of the island.