(Reuters) – Molten rock from several lava-spewing fissures opened by Kilauea Volcano crept toward clusters of homes and vacation rentals on the eastern tip of Hawaii’s Big Island on Wednesday, prompting authorities to usher residents out of the area as a precaution. Evacuation of the area came on the 28th day of what geologists rank as one of the biggest upheavals in a century from one of the world’s most active volcanoes.
The Hawaii County Civil Defense agency issued the advisory as lava flows picked up speed late on Tuesday (May 29) and early on Wednesday and threatened to cut off a key traffic route into the seaside area on the far eastern flank of the volcano.
Civil defense officials also pointed to severe communication outages in the area due to downed power and phone lines, reinforcing the decision to proceed with evacuation plans immediately rather than wait for a potential emergency.
Residents were urged to stay tuned to local radio stations for further updates. The number of people affected by Wednesday’s evacuations was not precisely known, but the impacted areas encompass about 500 homes, mostly vacation rentals, according to Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno.