Hawaii Volcano: Escape Routes Threatened, Injury Reported

Residents have been told to evacuate immediately

What you need to know
  • Authorities have ordered residents in some areas to evacuate as lava causes brush fires
  • Residents have been told lava flow could cross a key highway escape route within hours
  • A man's leg has been hit by a lava spatter, Reuters reports

More residents in Hawaii have been ordered to evacuate immediately with authorities fearing a highway escape route could be blocked off by lava within hours, as the threat from Kilauea volcano escalates.

On Saturday Hawaii County Civil Defense warned residents that lava flow was less than a kilometre away from a key highway and had caused brush fires to spread, forcing authorities to call for mandatory evacuations in some areas.

"Should the lava enter the ocean be aware of the laze hazard and stay away from any ocean plume," the Civil Defence Authority also warned.

At least four people have already been airlifted out of areas isolated by the lava's path, CBS reports.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the rate of lava eruption has been increasing since Friday, after Fissures 16-20 merged into one continuous line of spatter.

"It is unknown whether the flows will continue to advance, or stop, and new lava flows are likely given the rate of activity seen at the rift zone," USGS warned.

"Volcanic gas emissions remain very high."
First reports of serious injury

On Saturday the first report of serious injury emerged with a man believed to have been hit in the leg by a lava spatter.

“A homeowner on Noni Farms Road who was sitting on a third-floor balcony got hit with lava spatter,” Janet Snyder, a spokesperson for the Office of the Mayor, County of Hawaii told Reuters.

“It hit him on the shin and shattered everything there down on his leg."

Lava spatters “can weigh as much as a refrigerator and even small pieces of spatter can kill,” Snyder was reported as saying.

It's understood more homes have been also been destroyed by lava in recent days.

Kilauea-erupts
Experts say lava spatters could shoot boulders the size of refrigerators. SOURCE: Getty Images

Experts are predicting volcanic activity could escalate further, with USGS warning of more possible cracks in the ground and lava outbreaks.

Thousands of residents have already voluntarily left their homes with refuge centres set up around the Big Island.

The area has been declared a disaster zone by President Trump.