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Toxic gases add to hazards near Hawaii's erupting Kilauea volcano


REUTERS
PAHOA, Hawaii
Toxic gas emanating from steaming gashes on the flank of Hawaii's erupting Kilauea volcano on Tuesday added to the danger facing residents, whose escape routes are threatened with closure because of lava flows, officials said.
Dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide gas and other emissions prompted state health officials to urge residents to stay indoors or leave the eastern end of Hawaii's Big Island, which has been ravaged by volcanic activity since May 3.
A 20th fissure releasing lava and gases has opened on Kilauea's side, state officials said on Tuesday. Lava oozing out of fissures have hit the island's lower Puna area especially hard, tearing through farmland some 25 miles (40 km) east of the volcano's smoking summit, destroying 37 homes and other structures and posing a risk of blocking one of the last exit routes, state Highway 132.
No deaths or major injuries have been reported, but officials have ordered about 2,000 residents to evacuate the area.
Near-constant small earthquakes and gas emissions have not driven all area residents away.
Mark Clawson, a 64-year-old semi-retired plumber, said he was not ready to leave his spacious Upper Kapoho hilltop home, where he has lived for 15 years.

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