Postcard from... Honolulu


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The Independent Online

As a volcano’s slow-moving lava approached a cemetery in a rural Hawaii town, Aiko Sato placed flowers at the headstone of the family plot she’s tended over the years, thinking it would be the last time she would see it.

“I made peace with myself,” Ms Sato said of her visit to the Pahoa Japanese Cemetery last month. A few days later, when lava smothered part of the cemetery, the family believed the headstone was covered.

But a photo taken by a scientist documenting the lava’s progress showed the headstone, engraved with the Sato name standing, in a sea of black lava. “I feel like it’s a miracle,” Ms Sato, 63, said. “I know subsequent breakouts could cover the grave, but at least I know it survived the first round.”

The lava’s flow front stalled over the weekend. Ms Sato’s aunt, Eiko Kajiyama, 83, said she was heartbroken when lava covered the cemetery. But when she got the scientist’s photo, she hugged him.

The Hawaii Volcano Observatory normally wouldn’t release such photos out of respect for the family of the deceased but gave the Sato family a copy after a chance encounter between the family and the observatory scientist.

 “We’re so thankful we know the tomb is still there,” Ms Kajiyama said. AP