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Explosion rocks Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, sending ash 1 mile high

HOLLYN JOHNSON  Tribune-Herald Lava flows into Green Lake on Sunday in lower Puna. Special thanks to Blue Hawaiian Helicopters

From earthquakes to seeping lava, Hawaii's Big Island has seen plenty from nature since the first eruptions of Kilauea volcano.

"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", said Janet Snyder, a spokeswoman for Hawaii County.

A slow-moving flood of lava destroyed hundreds of homes in the southeast area of Big Island, turning what had been a scenic bay dotted with beach homes, lush greens and turquoise waters, into a dark slab of steam and lava.

No injuries were reported as most residents heeded the advice to leave. Okabe described the area as a mix of vacation rentals and year-round residences.

PAHOA, Hawaii-A river of lava spewing from the foot of Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano swallowed about three dozen more homes on the Big Island during a weekend of destruction that brought to almost 120 the number of dwellings devoured since last month, officials said on Monday.

A civil defense official told Reuters on Tuesday at least 60 to 80 more homes were believed to have been devoured as the lava flow, measuring about half a mile wide and 10 to 15 feet tall, inundated the adjacent subdivisions of Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland.

"It's a necessary evil".

Lava flows have knocked out telephone and power lines, causing widespread communication outages, and forced the shutdown of a geothermal energy plant that normally provides about a quarter of the island's electricity.

"God only knows what it's going to do next", Johnson said. But it's unclear how long it would take to re-open access to the area, he said.

Thousands in the Puna area had to evacuate after lava fissures started opening in neighbourhoods a month ago. It was initially thought lost to lava, but county officials later said it had been spared.

The two communities, comprising a quiet vacation spot once popular for its snorkeling and tide pools, sat at the edge of a small, shallow inlet called Kapoho Bay. She said it would be some time before precise losses were confirmed.