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Lava has destroyed 700 homes – and added 700 acres to Hawaii

CBS News logo CBS News 7/18/2018

The National Guard in Hawaii is warning of new, immediate dangers to people living near the Kilauea volcano some two-and-a-half months after the eruption started.  At the same time lava flow is changing the outline of the island itself and creating hundreds of acres of new land where the ocean used to be.  

The island has grown by nearly 700 acres, the equivalent of more than 500 football fields, reports CBS News' Carter Evans. 

Gallery by photo services

"In the mandatory evacuation area there's an ever-present, immediate danger. Sulphur dioxide levels, wind shift. The immediate threat from the lava," said Capt. Darren Taylor of the Hawaii National Guard.   

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The continuous lava flow has now covered about 12.5 square miles of Hawaii's Big Island, or about half the size of Manhattan, and has destroyed more than 700 homes. It continues to threaten more structures. 


Lava filled Kapoho Bay and beyond, expanding the coastline farther and farther into the sea. At one point, a small island was formed off the coast. Scientists think molten lava broke through a hardened rock crust underwater and rose until it reached above sea level.  

Michael Hale is one of a reported 1,500 evacuees. A lava field now covers the area that used to be his home. He now lives in a makeshift house with limited power. Still, he plans to stick around.  

"Since I've moved here I've always wanted to be here," Hale said. "I could go somewhere else, rent an apartment… But I don't know. This is my home."   

Hale's property, like so many others, is covered in hardened black rock and it's unclear if the state will ever allow them to rebuild. He's one of hundreds facing an uncertain future here even once the crisis is over.


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