‘The goddess of volcanoes is showing herself’


Some of the best pictures of the Mount Kīlauea eruptions and lava flows have come from the air, so we decided to take a helicopter to the southern coast of Hawaii’s Big Island.

Our pilot Casey Allen flew us close to the lava pouring into the sea.

He was careful to stay upwind of a huge plume of toxic steam, or lava haze.

A lava river flows towards the Pacific Ocean near Pahoa 1:38
Video: Watching the ground open up and spill lava

The haze is produced when molten lava reacts with sea water to make hydrochloric acid and tiny shards of glass.

Despite this, it was a breathtaking, primal scene.

Lava oozed through the bright green rain forest into the ocean, fissures fountaining molten rock in the distance, ash clouds hanging on the hazy skyline.

Mr Allen said: “When you live on an active volcano, this happens.

“Yes it’s disconcerting, for sure.”

Hannah Thomas-Peter 2:48
Video: Sky correspondent visits ‘eerie’ volcano area

From high up you really get a sense of the scale of these vast lava flows. They’ve simply carved through the land, some of them merging, some of them moving at 300m per hour.

On the ground, this volatility is creating new problems by the hour. Lava is advancing on a geothermal power plant next to the evacuated area of Leilani Estates.

Efforts have been made to use cold water to reduce the risk of lava mixing with the chemicals inside it, but there is concern that soon there might be another dangerous gas to contend with, and possibly more evacuations.

At a pop up community centre next to a national guard road block, locals gather to exchange information, pick up supplies and get a hot meal.

The lava flows are beautiful, but deadly
Image: The lava flows are beautiful, but deadly

Volunteer and local resident Lililoe Kahalepauole said there were so many “mixed emotions” in the community.

Yes it is scary, she said, but also magical, because “Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes, is showing herself.

“Flowing lava is a beautiful sight. It’s beautiful.”

Ikaiku Marzo helped organise the centre. He’s been tracking fissures and new activity since it began.

He said it was sad to watch people lose their homes and have to leave their pets behind in the rush to get out.

Video: Hawaii residents warned over toxic fumes

But he emphasised the strength of the spirit of this place.

He said: “The people of Puna are strong. We will rebuild. We will not leave.”

More from Hawaii

Before anyone can rebuild, the disruptive volcanic activity has to end. But the earthquakes, eruptions and lava flows continue.

It seems Kīlauea isn’t finished yet.

From – SkyNews