Giant new fissures open up on Kilauea prompting more evacuations

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Giant new fissures open up on Kilauea prompting more evacuations

Hawaii residents were alerted on Thursday to rising levels of toxic gas from volcanic fissures and geologists warned that Kilauea volcano may bring more fissures, lava, gas, and disaster. "Communities downslope of these fissures could be at risk from lava inundation", says the USGS.

Hawaii's Office of Enterprise Technology Services is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring communication between state, federal, county and city agencies are up and running as the volcano's fissures break open in unpredictable locations, Todd Nacapuy, chief information officer of Hawaii, told Government Technology late last week when the fissure count stood at 15.

The Hawaii National Guard is prepared to use ground convoys and helicopters to help evacuate hundreds of residents stuck in the southeast corner of Hawaii's Big Island should Kilauea make it impossible to get out, authorities said.

Lava flowing from giant rips in the earth on the flank of Hawaii's erupting Kilauea volcano threatened highways on Monday, raising the possibility officials may order thousands more people to evacuate before escape routes are cut off. Civil defence officials warn of volcanic gas emissions and active eruptions with this new fissure.

Officials say the pace of bookings for hotels and tour activities on the Big Island of Hawaii are down about 50 percent compared with previous years as an erupting volcano spews lava for a second week.

"This morning, activity is dominated by lava fountaining, the explosion of spatter more than 100 feet into the air, and an advancing lava flow from fissure 17 at the northeast end of the fissure system", the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said in a statement.

"It's down to one gravel road, that's what also pushed us over the edge", said Rob Guzman, who with his husband Bob Kirk made a decision to leave their home in the Kalapana Seaview Estates subdivision around 3.5 miles (5.6 km) south of Leilani Estates. A new video shot by drone near the Leilani Estates where the fissures formed shows the extent of the damage in a whole new way.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where Kilauea is located, said yesterday it would close most of the park on Friday due to the threat of a possible explosive eruption. Lava has destroyed more than 40 structures, including two dozen homes.

Two shelters opened nearby to house families and pets.

"The appearance of the fissures in the past couple of days does not change the overall picture or concern", USGS scientist Steve Brantley said. Additional fissures may still form in new areas as well, further complicating things.

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