Lava destroys hundreds of homes overnight in Hawaii

The easternmost Fissure 8 lava flow is seen in the vicinity of Kapoho Crater near Pahoa on Friday

The easternmost Fissure 8 lava flow is seen in the vicinity of Kapoho Crater near Pahoa on Friday

Lava from the erupting Kilauea volcano destroyed "hundreds" of homes overnight, including a house belonging to the Big Island's mayor, according to a Hawaii County spokeswoman. The lava produced a massive cloud of steam when it reached the ocean at Kapoho Bay on Monday.

Thousands of residents have been evacuated from the area and lava spewing from the volcano's fissures have destroyed more than 100 structures since the first eruption a month ago.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported high levels of quake activity were near Kilauea's summit late Monday night and early Tuesday morning, including a magnitude-5.5 natural disaster at 4:32 a.m., which produced a plume of lava 1,000 feet above the summit.

"What used to be the bay is now all lava bed, new land, nearly a mile out into the ocean", the civil defense spokesman said.

The official said aerial surveillance of the area showed only the northern portion of Kapoho Beach and the southernmost "sliver" of Vacationland - the latter consisting of only about a half-dozen homes - were left unscathed.

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Such a tally would put property losses from the current upheaval of Kilauea, which entered its 34th day on Tuesday, on par with the 215 structures destroyed by lava during all 35 years of the volcano's last eruption cycle, which began in 1983.

The beach communities of Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland, some six miles downslope from the main active vent were inundated late Sunday evening. Okabe described the area as a mix of vacation rentals and year-round residences.

Lava claimed Harry Pomerleau's home in Vacationland. Over the weekend, the US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported more than 500 earthquakes in a 24-hour period - the most ever measured by HVO scientists.

Kim said he purchased the home in 1971. Officials had issued mandatory orders for residents of Leilani Estates and those in Kapoho Beach and Vacationland were advised to leave by last Friday or risk being trapped and unreachable by emergency crews.

Homes in Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland are on smaller lots and closer together than those in other parts of the Puna district. Okabe estimated there are several hundred homes in each of the two subdivisions.

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