Lava from the erupting Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island flowed towards a geothermal power plant on Monday as workers scrambled to shut it down to prevent the uncontrollable release of toxic gases.
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People take photos on a tour boat as steam plumes rise while lava enters the Pacific Ocean, after flowing to the water from a Kilauea volcano fissure, on Hawaii's Big Island on May 20, 2018 near Pahoa, Hawaii.
According to US Geological Survey (USGS) scientist Wendy Stovall, any Hawaii residents that feel stinging on their skin should go inside because the acid in the laze plume is corrosive and can cause irritation to the skin, eyes and lungs, especially to those with asthma and emphysema.
Laze - a combination of the words lava and haze - is the product of a chemical reaction that happens when molten, 2,140-degree-Fahrenheit lava hits the ocean.
The sight is breathtaking, but officials are warning people to be cautious as laze carries with it significant health hazards. It has already produced around two dozen lava-spewing cracks, the same number as a previous 88 day event in 1955.
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Officials want residents in the remote and rural area of the Big Island to heed evacuation warnings.
There are additional hazards as lava enters the ocean, including the scalding, hot water, said Ken Rubin, the department chair of geology and geophysics at the University of Hawaii. But a shift in wind direction could bring the laze toward population centers.
"That is where we are going to see increased activity, potentially higher fountains, more lava flows, and much more dynamic situations than before". The ground split open in Leilani Estates, and residents were told to evacuate the area. It's the first serious injury reported since the volcano began erupting May 3. The spokesperson said Saturday a homeowner on Noni Farms Road in the hard-hit town of Pahoa was sitting on his balcony when he was hit with lava splatter. The man was rushed to the hospital for treatment. Four residents had to be evacuated by county and National Guard helicopters on Friday after they were cut off by the lava flow.
Lava erupts on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 19, 2018.
"There continue to be explosions and earthquakes from the volcano's summit - many are saying it sounds like a war zone", Jackie Young of Hawaii Public Radio reported.