Eruptions continue into 11th week; 725 acres of new land created

Tour boat captures lava explosion that injured at least 13 people
Published: Jul. 18, 2018 at 9:48 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 20, 2018 at 12:09 PM HST
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PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - The eruptions on the Big Island are still going strong, 11 weeks after they started.

On Thursday, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said lava was about .3 miles from the boat ramp at Isaac Hale Park.

The news came a day after authorities confirmed flows had destroyed "additional structures" on Nohea Street. It's unclear how many homes were claimed, but officials have put the number of homes destroyed in the ongoing disaster at more than 700.

And the volume of lava flowing from fissure no. 8 in Leilani Estates doesn't seem to be slowing either.

It continues to feed flows that are emptying off Kapoho, creating new land — and unstable conditions in the water.

On Monday, a lava explosion off Kapoho sent debris and rock flying into the air and landing onto a tour boat. That explosion injured 23 passengers.

Last week, the lava also claimed charter school and beloved park.

For days, the community has anxiously watched and waited as lava from fissure 8 closed in on the Kua O Ka La Public Charter School. There was uncertainty over the path of the lava flow and hopes that the school would be spared.

But an overflight last Thursday confirmed the community's worst fears: Both Ahalanui Beach Park — also known as Warm Ponds — and Kua O Ka La School have been covered by lava.

Since eruptions started May 3, several communities have been decimated or left unrecognizable. In addition to the homes that have been destroyed, hundreds of others have sustained damage, are unlivable — because of volcanic emissions — or are inaccessible.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists say lava now covers more than 6,100 acres on the Big Island.

And lava flowing off Kapoho has created 725 acres of new land.

Meanwhile, collapse explosions continue at the summit of Kilauea, happening on an almost daily basis.

The latest happened Thursday about 4:45 p.m., generating a 5.4 magnitude quake but no tsunami threat.

As eruptions continue, residents who have lost their homes — or who can't return to them because of toxic gases, or lava cutting across access points — are scrambling for housing solutions. So far, those solutions have been hard to find.

The latest road closure was announced on Thursday, when state officials said a portion of Highway 11 was shut down near mile marker 28 due to a hole that opened up in the area.

The bigger picture on Hawaii Island remains the same, though: The eruption is ongoing and it's not clear when it will end.

This story will be updated. 

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