Hawaii hit with over 500 earthquakes in 24 hours

HOLLYN JOHNSON  Tribune-Herald Lava from fissure No. 8 oozes toward Kapoho Bay on Sunday in lower Puna. Special thanks to Blue Hawaiian Helicopters

A slow-moving flood of lava destroyed hundreds of homes in the southeast area of Big Island, turning what had been a scenic bay dotted with beach homes, lush greens and turquoise waters, into a dark slab of steam and lava.

Overnight Monday, "hundreds" more were destroyed in Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland, said Janet Snyder, a Hawaii Civil Defense Service spokeswoman.

While no-one has been killed and only one lava-related injury has been reported, the number of destroyed homes dwarfs other recent American eruptions. These were vacation homes and rentals, as well as primary residences.

Overnight Monday and Tuesday, A wide and fast lava flow from Kilauea volcano's fissure No. 8 wiped out hundreds of homes in Kapoho and obliterated Kapoho Bay, replacing it with a almost mile-long delta of lava rock. Lava has inundated most of Vacationland and has covered all but the northern part of Kapoho Beach Lots. The destruction is the largest number of destroyed homes since the eruption began last month.

"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.

"I'm kind of at peace, actually", Johnson said of potentially losing his home of 28 years. Kim and Okabe live in Hilo, the county's seat, which is more than an hour drive from the Kapoho area.

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Residents of the Puna District in East Hawai'i are reeling from this latest blow, many displaced, seeking shelter with friends, relatives, and in community facilities throughout the island.

Video footage from a helicopter showed two seaside homes engulfed in flames as clouds of white steam and hydrochloric acid fumes billowed from the water, where red-hot lava was pouring into the ocean.

Around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, the volcano began spewing ash almost a mile into the air, sparking a 5.5 magnitude quake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Hundreds of earthquakes shook the eastern side of Big Island, prompting Kilauea Volcano to erupt.

Kathy Emery, who evacuated from her 5-acre farm in Kapoho, said she doesn't know if she has a home to go back to.

She reminisced about taking her daughter to swim in the ocean for the first time in a local swimming spot known as Champagne Ponds.

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