Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Hawaii Volcano Summit Erupts, Residents Urged to Take Shelter

Hawaii Volcano Summit Erupts, Residents Urged to Take Shelter

Earthquakes continue to shake the Big Island, with the most severe at around 8:30 a.m. producing a 4.4 magnitude quake.

Geologists had warned explosive eruptions could begin once Kilauea's falling lava lake descended below the water table, allowing water to run on to the top of the lava column and create a steam-driven blasts. Not all the fissures were still active, it added.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory issued a "code red" warning that additional activity could be expected.

"Yesterday was not like this", she said of the ash.

National Guard troops donned gas masks to protect themselves from toxic sulfur dioxide gas at the intersection of highways 130 and 132, the main exit routes from the village of Pahoa, 25 miles (40 km) east of the volcano, where numerous ground fissures have erupted, a Reuters reporter in the village said.

It is on a remote part of Hawaii Island, found on the eastern edge.

The agency said that the ash plume would end up covering the surrounding area and that the wind would also likely carry the plume southeast of the volcano's summit.

Map locating new fissures that have opened up near Hawaii's Kilauea volcano
Hawaii Volcano Summit Erupts, Residents Urged to Take Shelter

Everybody usually stationed near the volcano had been evacuated, the USGS said. The gas can cause skin irritations and breathing difficulties. "It felt nearly apocalyptic".

"As deflation continues, strong earthquakes in the area around Kilauea Volcano's summit are expected to continue and may become more frequent". Lava flows from the volcano have covered 125 square km, according to the USGS.

The explosion came shortly after 4:00am (local time) after two weeks of volcanic activity that sent lava flows into neighbourhoods and destroyed dozens of homes. Almost 40 structures have been destroyed as a result of the eruptions, but no deaths or injuries have been reported.

US Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii called on federal officials to send help quickly.

It's one of five volcanoes on Hawaii's Big Island, and the only one now erupting.

More than 1800 residents in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens had been ordered to leave their homes since Thursday, when public works officials first reported steam and lava erupting from fissures in a road, Ms Gabbard said.

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