A stream of lava threatened to block a key Hawaii highway on Sunday that serves as an escape route for coastal residents, while the first known serious injury was reported from fresh explosive eruptions from the Kilauea volcano.
A homeowner on Noni Farms Road who was on a third-floor balcony had his leg shattered from his shin to his foot when hit by lava spatter, said Janet Snyder, a spokesperson for the Office of the Mayor, County of Hawaii.
She added that lava spatters “can weigh as much as a refrigerator and even small pieces of spatter can kill.” No other information was immediately available.
As magma destroyed four more homes, molten rock from two huge cracks merged into a single stream, threatening to block escape routes and touching off brush fires.
The erupting lava, which can reach a blistering 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,093 degrees Celsius), was expected to hit Highway 137 overnight if it kept up its rate and direction of flow, the County of Hawaii’s Civil Defense Agency said.
Authorities are trying to open up a road that was blocked by lava in 2014 to serve as an alternative escape route should Highway 137 or another exit route, Highway 130, be blocked, Jessica Ferracane of the National Park Service told reporters.
The park service is working to bulldoze almost a mile of hardened lava out of the way on nearby Highway 11, which has been impassable, she added.
The Hawaii National Guard has warned of mandatory evacuations if more roads become blocked.
But officials went house-to-house in the area to urge more residents to flee, Snyder said, though no head count of the new evacuation was available early Sunday.
They also warned of laze, clouds of hydrochloric acid and steam embedded with fine glass particles formed when hot lava hits ocean water.
For weeks, geologists have warned that hotter, fresher magma from Kilauea’s summit would run underground and emerge some 25 miles east in the lower Puna district, where older, cooler lava has already destroyed 44 homes and other structures.
“Summit magma has arrived,” U.S. Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall said on a conference call with reporters.
“There is much more stuff coming out of the ground and its going to produce flows that will move much further away.”
Fountains of bright orange lava were seen spouting at least 20-feet high, and spewing rivers of molten rock on Saturday.
Carolyn Pearcheta, operational geologist at the Hawaii Volcano Authority, told reporters that hotter and more viscous lava could be on the way, with fountains spurting as high as 600 feet, as seen in a 1955 eruption.
“We’ve seen the clearing out of the system,” she said. “We call that the ‘throat clearing’ phase.”
NEW EXPLOSIVE ERUPTION
At the volcano’s summit, another large explosive eruption occurred around midnight, sending up a nearly two-mile-high ash plume (10,000 feet), according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. There was another explosion around 4 p.m. (10 p.m. ET), according to a Reuters reporter.
Scientists expect a series of eruptions from Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, that could spread ash and volcanic smog across the Big Island, the southernmost of the Hawaiian archipelago.
That could pose a hazard to aircraft if it blows into their routes at around 30,000 feet.
Around 2,000 residents of Leilani Estates and Laipuna Gardens housing areas near Pahoa, about 30 miles south of Hilo, were ordered to evacuate due to at least 22 volcanic cracks that have opened.
Many thousands more residents have voluntarily left their homes due to life-threatening levels of toxic sulfur dioxide gas spewing from vents in the volcanic fissures.
Trump’s anti-worker labor nominee is more like the ‘Secretary of Corporate Interests’
Progressive groups and Democratic lawmakers expressed serious concerns Thursday about corporate attorney Eugene Scalia — President Donald Trump's pick to lead the Labor Department — as the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee met to consider his nomination.
"Instead of nominating a Secretary of Labor, President Trump has nominated a Secretary of Corporate Interests," declared Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the committee's ranking member. "If there's one consistent pattern in Mr. Scalia's long career, it's hostility to the very workers he would be charged with protecting, and the very laws he would be charged with enforcing if he were confirmed."
Here are the specific charges Trump could face if the whistleblower report reaches prosecutors
The exploding Ukrainian whistleblower scandal could once again throw President Donald Trump into legal turmoil, wrote former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade for The Daily Beast on Saturday.
Specifically, she argued, prosecutors could theoretically charge the president under federal bribery and extortion laws, based on the facts laid out by recent reporting.
"The facts here still need to be fleshed out, but the gist is easy enough to understand," wrote McQuade. "Trump allegedly has demanded that Ukraine launch an investigation into Biden if it wants to receive the military aid that has already been promised. If true, this conduct would be a classic abuse of power that is considered criminal when committed by a public official."
There’s evidence that climate activism could be swaying public opinion in the US
Climate activists walked out of classrooms and workplaces in more than 150 countries on Friday, Sept. 20 to demand stronger action on climate change. Mass mobilizations like this have become increasingly common in recent years.
I’m a scholar of environmental communication who examines how people become engaged with solving dilemmas such as climate change, and how activism motivates others to take action. A new study I worked on suggests that large rallies, such as this youth-led Climate Strike, could be influencing public opinion.