The lava of Kilauea volcano on contact with the Pacific Ocean has caused a cloud of acid that could be deadly and in which fine fragments of glass are suspended, a new source of danger after more than two weeks of eruptions.
The Civil Defense Agency of Hawaii has warned motorists, navigators and tourists to beware of the toxic clouds of “laze”, a combination of lava and haze formed when the lava flows come into contact with the sea.
Caustic smoke can be fatal if inhaled. The volcano has produced about two dozen cracks that shed lava, the same number as in a previous 88-day event in 1955.
The eruption has entered a more violent phase, in which large volumes of molten rock, hotter and faster than the older magma, are coming out of fissures in the ground that have exploded in a small area of rural communities.
The lava has destroyed at least 44 homes and other structures in the area of Leilani Estates and Laipuna Gardens of the Puna district. Two thousand people have received orders to evacuate their homes due to lava flows and toxic sulfur dioxide gas, whose levels have tripled in the past two days, according to the Civil Defense of Hawaii County.
The Hawaiian National Guard has warned that there will be more mandatory evacuations if more roads are blocked.