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Molten lava consumes ancient Hawaiian temple

August 12, 1997
Web posted at: 6:50 p.m. EDT (2250 GMT)

VOLCANO, Hawaii (CNN) -- Lava from the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii crept Monday over the walls of a 700-year-old temple considered by some to be the most sacred of ancient Hawaiian temple sites.

The temple, the Wahaula Heiau, is a complex of stone platforms situated at a remote area on the southeastern coast of Hawaii Island. It is believed to have hosted human sacrifices.

The temple was threatened by lava in 1989 and 1990, but on those occasions the molten rock was diverted around the temple's 4-foot-high walls.

Temple destroyed by lava
video icon 834K/18 sec. QuickTime movie

This time, the lava crept over the temple's walls before flowing into the sea, where it released steam as it cooled. Steam could be seen rising from the ocean at four separate points on both sides of the complex.

Aerial of volcano

The volcanic activity also has destroyed nearly 300 homes and a village in the area, along with a smaller temple site.

Kilauea has been erupting almost continuously since January 1983. Its eruptions have produced more than 1 billion cubic yards of lava, adding more than 60 acres to the island.

The Hawaiian Island chain was created by centuries of volcanic activity.

Copyright 1997   The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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