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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Kilauea volcano destroys two more Hawaii communities

Hundreds of homes lost as lava spills from the ground

Lava from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano destroyed hundreds more homes overnight, overtaking two oceanfront communities where residents were last week advised to move out, officials said on Tuesday.

No injuries were reported as most residents heeded the advice to leave.

The latest lost homes were in addition to at least 117 others that were previously reported by officials since lava began spilling last month from cracks in the ground in a mostly rural district of the Big Island.

"We don't have an estimate yet but safe to say that hundreds of homes were lost in Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland last night," Janet Snyder, a spokeswoman for Hawaii County, said on Tuesday.

A morning overflight confirmed that lava had completely filled Kapoho Bay, inundated most of Vacationland and covered all but the northern part of Kapoho Beach Lots, scientists with the US Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

Despite earlier reports that lava claimed Big Island Mayor Harry Kim's second home in Vacationland, an aerial flyover confirmed it is still standing, Ms Snyder said.

County managing director Wil Okabe said his own vacation home in Kapoho Beach Lots was threatened. Mr Okabe described the area as a mix of vacation rentals and year-round residences.

"For us it's more of a vacation area but for those who live there permanently, they're trying to figure out where they're going to be living," he said. Mr Kim and Mr Okabe live in Hilo, the county's seat, which is more than an hour drive from the Kapoho area.

Lava claimed Harry Pomerleau's home in Vacationland.

"It's a necessary evil. It's not our land. It belongs to Pele," he said, referring to the Hawaiian volcano goddess. "I have to imagine she knows what she's doing."

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Kapoho resident Mark Johnson was coming to terms with the possibility of losing his home and 5-acre citrus farm.

"I'm really kind of at peace, actually," he said. "I've had 28 years of wonderful experience down there in Kapoho."

Mr Johnson and Mr Pomerleau relocated last week when authorities with loudhailers arrived at 1am saying it was time to get their things and leave.

They didn't expect the lava flow to head their way.

"God only knows what it's going to do next," Mr Johnson said.