Hilo, HI -
A new view tonight showing the core of the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's big island. The lava lake at the bottom of the Halemaumau crater very active, bubbling and rolling as rocks from the surrounding walls fall into the lava. The lava lake dropping several hundred feet over the past few days as the eruption continues several miles away in the Leilani Estates area.
Earlier today, a major eruption of smoke and ash from the Halemaumau crater after large boulders rolled into the lava lake, creating an explosion. The cloud appeared just as the USGS warned of the potential for explosive eruptions at the crater. The USGS says that the steady lowering of the lava lake at the summit of Kilauea has raised the potential for more explosions in the coming weeks.
At least 15 volcanic fissures have opened up in and around the Leilani Estates, the newest crack opening this afternoon. Lava was flowing from the new vent, with officials enforcing mandatory evacuations that have been in place since last week. At least 27 homes have been destroyed, with nearly a dozen other structures consumed by lava.
You kind of lose perspective until you're actually on the ground and seeing the lava flows, and how it just erupted in the middle of the subdivision. The vents are still steaming and there's gas coming, and you can see how close the homes are to the vents. - Gov. David Ige, Hawaii
My kids are safe, and our dogs are safe and we have each other...but we just wanna go home. - Coni Drewer, Leilani Estates Resident
Nearly two thousand people have been asked to evacuate, though not all have left yet. That has officials concerned as the new vents are emitting extremely dangerous gases, they're now asking any straggler to get out now.
Made sure that people went in there and started evacuating. They went door to door, you know police, public works, civil defense, were all in there, trying to get people out. - Talmadge Magno, Civil Defense Administrator
One resident went home to try and check on her lost pets, and came face to face with the toxic gas.
Like choking on rotten eggs, fumes. It's really thick. Just makes your eyes water, your throat hurts, everything hurts. Your lungs literally ache so you gotta just run. - Julie Leialoha, Leilani Estates Resident
The national guard is monitoring the toxic fume levels.
I counted off 10 cracks all in the range over I would guestimate 2 to 4 inches and in that 2 to 4 inch range we were already well over what we would consider safe. - Lt. Aaron Hew Land, National Guard
And with no sign that the eruption is coming to an end, there is the possibility that more fissures may open, affecting other areas of the big island.