Helicopters on standby for large-scale evacuation in Hawaii


Nighttime photos released Wednesday by the U.S. Geological Survey show the flames spouting from cracks in the pavement in the Leilani Estates neighborhood where the volcano has been gushing lava on the big island of Hawaii for the past three weeks.

Wells have been capped at a geothermal plant in Hawaii as moving lava from the Kilauea volcano eruption threatens the property. There has been continuous low-level ash emission from Kilauea's summit with larger explosions every few hours, said U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Mike Poland.

This was just the second time Kauahikaua has seen the blue flames during a volcanic eruption, he also told the AP.

At Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, eerie blue flames indicate the presence of methane gas. While one might expect the volcano and lava to produce a red glow, the camera used to shoot the video had its infrared filter removed, causing the glow to appear more white and blue than red.

Thousands of Big Island residents who were living near the lava flows have already evacuated the area to escape the lava flows and noxious sulphur dioxide gases rising from the vents.

Laze - lava haze - is still posing a serious risk from the streams of molten lava which have snaked their way across the island into the ocean.

Kilauea began erupting lava in a residential neighbourhood on May 3. The flows were expected to continue towards the ocean entry point by late evening.

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The occurrence of new lava vents, now numbering about two dozen, have been accompanied by earthquakes and periodic eruptions from the summit crater.

Those aircraft are capable of airlifting 43 people at a time, and could be flown if residents become isolated or if an incident happens at Puna Geothermal Venture.

Officials shut down Puna Geothermal shortly after the current eruption began.

Clinton was the first to suffer a major injury because of the eruption.

Lava destroyed a building near the plant, bringing the total number of structures overtaken in the past several weeks to almost 50, including dozens of homes. It can also cause explosions when it's ignited while trapped underground.

Production wells at a geothermal plant under threat by lava flowing from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano have been plugged to prevent toxic gases from seeping out, authorities said.

While one man almost lost his leg to flying lava splatter, no one has died yet in connection to the volcanic activity.