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Kilauea lava flow takes dangerous new turn

Will travel insurance cover delayed flights or cancelled flights?

Following the devastating lava and toxic sulfur dioxide, a new danger has emerged from the eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano: laze.


Lava entering the sea near Pahoa (Image AP- US Geological Survey)


This mix of lava and haze occurs when hot magma hits the ocean and sends up hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass particles into the air. According to CNN, laze can cause lung, eye and skin irritation, and has caused fatalities in the past.


“This hot, corrosive gas mixture caused two deaths immediately adjacent to the coastal entry point in 2000, when seawater washed across recent and active lava flows,” the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.


Kilauea has been erupting for more than two weeks, and its molten lava has already destroyed at least 40 structures and forced people to flee on Hawaii’s Big Island.


But things could get worse, according to CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar, who said “the consistency of lava is now changing”.


"Now it is runnier, but that is allowing it to move faster," she warned.


Halemaumau crater (Image Reuters / Terray Sylvester)


The news comes as the first major injury from flying lava was reported. A man sitting on a third floor balcony at his home in a remote rural location was hit on the leg by a piece of molten rock, causing part of the man’s leg to “shatter”, Hawaii County Mayor spokeswoman, Janet Snyder, told Hawaii News Now.


With the volcano expected to continue erupting for some time, travellers might be wondering how their travel plans could be affected – and what they’ll be covered for under travel insurance.


“Impacted travelers should contact their insurers for clarity on whether they’ll still be providing cover for any interruptions to flights or bookings,” travel insurance expert Bessie Hassan said.  


“If your holiday is affected by the eruption, retain proof of purchase for any expenses and provide as much information as possible to your insurer.”


Though it’s probably too late to take out travel insurance for the event now, Ms Hassan said “travellers who took out their insurance policy before the eruption was a known event should be able to claim for interruptions and delays caused by the volcano.”


Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 21 May 2018

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