Workers bulldoze emergency escape route through Hawaii lava field as flows threaten roads

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Contractors on Hawaii’s Big Island have begun bulldozing an emergency evacuation route through an old lava flow over fears the ongoing eruption could trap thousands of people by destroying existing roads.Highlighting the urgency, authorities on Thursday morning called for new evacuations of the Vacationland coastal area as lava approached, warning of possible inundation.To create the new evacuation route, workers are removing cold, hardened lava from a section of Chain of Craters road, which runs from the coast up the flank of the volcano Kilauea through Volcanoes National Park. The road – initially built in 1965 – has been repeatedly covered by lava flows, including the ones that destroyed the town of Kalapana in 1990.Re-opening the road would give residents in the town of Pahoa, the Leilani Estates and coastal areas a new escape route if the current flow continues to block and threaten roads. The primary escape routes are to the northeast. The new road would provide a southwestern evacuation route.The Hawaii Department of Transportation and Volcanoes National Park said in a joint statement that rough grading and other reconstruction efforts to make the road passable are expected to take two weeks or less.

 

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