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The Kilauea Eruption

Travis Prine, Contributor

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After earthquakes and molten lava tore open the earth, residents of Hawaii’s Big Island have new threats to worry about: hazardous volcanic smog and acid rain.

The Kilauea eruption last week created new volcanic vents on the ground miles east of the summit, releasing slow-moving lava and toxic gas into island communities.

Officials and the Hawaii Department of health have warned of dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide gas.

If winds weaken, that gas and other volcanic pollutants can settle easily with moisture and dust to create a haze called volcanic smog, or “vog,” with tiny sulfuric acid droplets that can pose respiratory problems for residents of Hawaii’s big island and with people who have asthma problems.

Other dangers persist, not only in the form of lava but also earthquakes and newly formed cracks spewing out ash and debris.

Two additional volcanic vents — the 13th and 14th — erupted Tuesday in the Leilani Estates area, where roughly 1,700 residents were asked to evacuate the area last week. At least 36 structures — including at least 26 homes — have been destroyed with most of the residents making it out safely from the smog. Nearly 2 thousand people were forced to leave their homes with little notice

At one of the volcanic fissures, a lava flow advanced for more than 5 hours Sunday, spreading more than a half mile away from the vent. And it’s not just the lava that has officials worried.

The Pahoa police department has established zero tolerance towards looting or vandalism with some of Pahoa’s stores and businesses being left behind for looters to steal what they can get their hands on. Meanwhile, The American Red Cross has opened two shelters at the Pahoa and Keaau Community Centers, where some evacuees have gathered while they await news about their homes.

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The Kilauea Eruption