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Lava continues to flow from Hawaii volcano

Lava continues to flow from Hawaii volcano

An eruption at Kilauea summit jolted the area Wednesday with the force of a 5.4 magnitude natural disaster and hurled an ash plume that reached 10,000 feet above sea level.

To date, lava from Kilauea's eruption has destroyed more than 600 homes and covered more than 5,000 acres. But in the past two weeks, more vigorous lava flows have poured downhill to the coast, blocking roads and destroying hundreds of homes in the Kapoho and Vacationland areas.

"We've pretty much thrown everything at this event" since a series of lava fissures began emerging from cracks in neighborhood last month, Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency Administrator Talmadge Magno said Monday. As it falls into the ocean, the molten rock's extreme temperature is causing the water to explode when it's rapidly converted into steam.

There was "not a lot of change" to the lava flow, said Janet Babb, a geologist with the USGS' Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

The ongoing lava flows have forced thousands of people from their homes, although many have been allowed to return on a temporary basis, particularly in the Leilani Estates area.

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At Kilauea's summit, there continue to be explosions that shoot plumes of ash into the sky. Venturing too close to an ocean entry on land or the ocean exposes you to flying debris from sudden explosive interaction between lava and water.

"Lava can't get hotter than where we are", Stovall said.

Latest updates from USGS at 09:32 pm BST said: "A line of closely spaced vents at Fissure 8 are continuing to erupt producing fountains reaching heights up to 160 feet, just higher than the spatter cone around them".

About half of those homes were destroyed in the past few days.