Ash cloud from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano sparks red alert for aircraft

17 May, 2018, 01:51 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Before-and-After Satellite Images Show Damage Caused By Lava From Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano

United States geological survey (USGS) has declared red level of danger air in Hawaii due to the eruption of the Kilauea volcano.

A red alert means a "major volcanic eruption is imminent, underway, or suspected", Efe news reported citing a statement on the USGS website.

Unsafe 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.

Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanos and one of five on the island. Ashfall and vog (volcanic air pollution) has been reported in Pahala, about 18 miles downwind.

Shocking images of lava spilling onto roads and 20 fissures expanding in the earth emerged as reports of toxic gas forced residents from their homes.

Officials say there is increased ash emission from the volcano summit.

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The HVO warned the current eruption could become more violent as "ballistic projectiles may be produced should steam-driven explosions occur", but their impact would be limited to the area around the crater.

Highway 130 remains open to local traffic - toward Leilani Estate and into Kalapana.

Geologists have warned that Kilauea's summit could have an explosive steam eruption that would hurl boulders and ash miles into the sky. Fissure 17, which had put out a flow more than a mile toward the ocean, has not advanced since Tuesday, they said.

According to Rob Birch, the executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitor Bureau, island summer hotel bookings have dropped by nearly half from previous year.

As a result, officials announced most of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park would be closed indefinitely to keep visitors and park employees at a safe distance from a possible eruption.

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