The volcanic eruption of Kilauea continues on Hawaii's Big Island. Lava and toxic gases, mostly sulfur dioxide and related chemicals, put residents in danger.
People exposed report a variety of symptoms, such as eye irritation, coughing, wheezing, sore throats and headaches. More than 1,700 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes. Some 35 structures, including at least 26 homes, have been destroyed. There are now many active fissures. Aftershocks continue to shake the region. The island has been hit by hundreds of earthquakes in recent days. Usually, the volcano was a touristic attraction for about two million annual visitors making a stop in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
But now things are different. The volcano and the surrounding area transformed into a natural disaster and tour operators in Hawaii stopped business. Instead, they participate to help the community. There is however a Facebook group which tracks lava flow and has been a home for videos taken by island residents in recent days. “People want to go down and get close it,” Richard D. Rapoza, a spokesman for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said. “It’s an interesting experience standing next to red hot lava, to some people,” he added. Fountains of lava have reached heights of 330 feet, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said. Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has been in constant eruption for 35 years. Now, officials say more outbreaks are likely to occur along the rift zone, and it’s unclear so far how long they will continue or where new fissures might form.