A Hawaiian man standing on a third-floor balcony had his leg shattered when it was struck by a giant chunk of molten lava in what is the first serious injury from the Kilauea volcano eruption.
The man was standing far above the ground when lava splatter from the fast-moving flow hit him on the shin, shattering the lower half of his leg, Fox News reported. A local town spokesperson noted that the chunks of lava bursting from the volcano can be as large as a refrigerator, noting that even small pieces can be deadly.
The Kilauea volcano has been erupting for more than two weeks, and 22 fissures have opened with lava flowing out at varying rates of speed. Close to 50 homes have been destroyed by the lava flow so far, and more are in danger. These flows have created a new danger aside from the fires and lava bursts — a deadly mixture of ocean water and lava called Laze.
“Laze is formed when hot lava hits the ocean sending hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles into the air,” Civil Defense Agency said. “Health hazards of laze include lung, eye and skin irritation. Be aware that the laze plume travels with the wind and can change direction without warning.”
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The lava flows have led to widespread evacuations, and on Saturday, the lava overtook Highway 137, which Fox News noted was a key escape route for local residents. As the evacuation orders have expanded, a growing number of local residents are being driven out, with no clear plan in sight for when they might be able to return.
Even those far from the actual lava flow from Kilauea are in danger, CNN’s Scott McLean reported. Lava bombs the size of giant boulders can be thrown up to a half mile away by the powerful eruptions. It was not clear how far the man whose leg was shattered by lava was from the flow itself, or if his home had been evacuated. Because the flow of lava is unpredictable and the volcano’s eruptions can increase at any time, local authorities have asked all local residents to follow directions of Hawaii’s civil defense, the BBC reported.