The first known injury related to the heightened volcanic activity from Kilauea has been reported after a man was hit by lava spatter.
Hawaii officials have reported the first serious injury related to the erupting Kilauea volcano after a man, only identified as a homeowner on Noni Farms Road, had his leg shattered from his shin to his foot on Saturday when he was hit by lava spatter, according to Reuters.
Lava spatters “can weigh as much as a refrigerator, and even small pieces of spatter can kill,” Janet Snyde, a spokesperson for the Office of the Mayor, County of Hawaii, said.
The man had reportedly been standing on a third-floor balcony at the time of the incident. Noni Farm Road, a residential road, is located to the east of the Leilani Estates neighborhood in Pahoa, where the majority of attention has been focused during the volcanic activity.
His current condition is not known.
Kilauea erupted on Thursday, May 3, sending clouds of steam and ash into the sky and shaking the Big Island with several earthquakes, the first of which registered as a 5.6 magnitude earthquake, which was followed an hour later by a 6.9 magnitude quake. It was the largest temblor in Hawaii since 1975, and led to small tsunami waves and sea fluctuations around the island.
The volcanic activity has also caused several fissures to open, the first of which occurred in a development called Leilani Estates. The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency called the situation “active volcanic fountaining,” and ordered residents to evacuate. Housing nearby was threatened by fires and “extremely high levels of dangerous” sulfur dioxide gas.
“Eruption of lava in the Leilani Estates subdivision in the lower East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano continues. Several additional eruptive fissures or vents – each several hundred yards long – have opened over the past day. No significant lava flows have yet formed. Spatter and lava are accumulating primarily within a few tens of yards of the vent,” the Hawaii Volcano Observatory said. “The sixth and most recent fissure is on the eastern edge of the subdivision. Not all fissure vents remain active and no far-traveled lava flows have formed.”
Authorities have since issued mandatory evacuations and have warned residents to continue staying out of the area, and President Trump approved disaster relief funds for Hawaii, after Governor David Ige requested help.
Scientists have warned that the eruptions could cause dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide in the air.
Along with the first serious reported injury, several homes have also been destroyed by the molten lava.