5.5-magnitude natural disaster reported beneath Hawaii's exploding Mt. Kilauea

Hawaii volcano map of affected area USGS

Lava from an erupting Hawaii volcano has destroyed more than 100 homes in a rural Big Island district.

Officials had issued mandatory evacuation orders for Kapoho as well as nearby Vacationland and Leilani Estates, urging those in the area to get out by Friday or risk being unreachable by rescue crews.

Lava also began flowing into the Kapoho Tide Pools overnight, destroying the popular snorkeling destination, Snyder said. But the Hawaii Civil Defense Agency said the fallout will affect the volcano and Pahala areas, and cautioned about the possibility of aftershocks.

"They are being asked to leave".

Another 2,000 people have been evacuated from the Leilani Estates subdivision, an area further west, where dozens of homes have been devoured or cut off by rivers of red-hot molten rock streaming over the landscape since May 3.

County Managing Director Wil Okabe said his own vacation home in Kapoho Beach Lots is also threatened.

Lava burned two buildings at the plant, a substation and a warehouse that stored a drilling rig on the property, officials said.

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At the Kilauea summit, another explosion occurred early Tuesday morning, accompanied by a 5.5 magnitude quake.

In addition to volcanic particles that can cause eye, skin and respiratory irritation, residents were warned to be on the lookout for sharp, thin strands of volcanic glass fibers known as "Pele's hair," a reference to the Hawaiian goddess of fire.

UPDATE (8:20 a.m.) - The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory's 6:30 a.m. HST overflight "confirmed that lava completely fills Kapoho Bay, extending 0.7 miles from the former coastline", scientists reported this morning. Police said a 55-year-old man was arrested last week after he circumvented a traffic checkpoint and crashed his vehicle into a hardened lava flow.

Continued earthquakes, including Sunday's magnitude 5.5 quake, damaged the overlook deck and other features at Jagger Museum in the national park, where most visitors go to see the summit lava lake, park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane said.

Although volcanic activity has only affected a small amount of forest area, authorities are concerned the wildlife unique to the region may be in danger.

Kilauea, standing at 4,091 ft (1,247 metres) tall, has now been erupting for 34 days in a row, the longest since 1955.

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