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Hawaii: a 17th fissure emitting steam and lava

Hawaii: a 17th fissure emitting steam and lava

A new fissure opened early Sunday on Hawaii’s Big Island, splattering lava tens of feet into the air and forcing more residents to evacuate. The fissure, which is several hundred yards long, was the 17th crack in the ground to open on the island in the week since the Kilauea volcano erupted on May 3. The newest fissure was originally designated the 18th fissure, but because the one previously labeled 17th never spewed lava, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reclassified the latest fissure as the 17th.

The volcanic vents, or fissures, have released slow-moving lava and toxic gas into island communities, gobbling up dozens of homes and vehicles. The Hawaii Civil Defense Agency said in a Sunday message that vacation rentals in Lower Puna were directed to cease operations to relieve the demand for water as well as reduce the area population so emergency responders can focus on residents.

Nearly 2,000 people have been evacuated since the volcano erupted May 3, sending lava flowing into communities and threatening a nearby geothermal plant.