Published On: Wed, May 16th, 2018

Hawaii volcano eruption: Relentless explosions and toxic ash set off aviation alert | World | News


Intensified explosions from the on Tuesday caused ash and volcanic smog to rise to 12,000 feet (3,657 meters) above Kilauea’s crater and floating southwest, showering cars with grey dust and prompting an “unhealthy air” advisory in the community of Pahala, 18 miles (29 km) from the summit.

Hawaii County officials have also warned of toxic gas and urged residents to leave the area as it may cause suffocation.

They said: “Severe conditions may exist such as choking and inability to breathe.

“This is a serious situation that affects the entire exposed population.”

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) have issued a red warning or increased ash emission, which means an eruption is imminent or suspected with hazardous activity.

Steve Brantley, a deputy scientist in charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), said: “We’re observing more or less continuous emission of ash now with intermittent, more energetic ash bursts or plumes.”

The observatory warned the eruption could become more violent.

“At any time, activity may become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent,” the HVO said in a statement on the change in aviation alert level to red from orange.

Ash is not poisonous but irritates the nose, eyes and airways. It can make roads slippery and large emissions could cause the failure of electrical power lines, said USGS chemist David Damby.

The area taking the brunt of the eruption is about 25 miles (40 km) down Kilauea’s eastern flank, near the village of Pahoa. Lava has burst from the ground to tear through housing developments and farmland, threatening one of the last exit routes from coastal areas, state Highway 132.

The latest fissure in the earth opened on Tuesday, spewing lava and toxic gases that pushed air quality into “condition red” around Lanipuna Gardens and nearby farms, causing “choking and inability to breathe,” the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Hawaii County Civil Defense said.

No major injuries or deaths have been reported from the eruption.

The Civil Defence said: “Be aware of the unpredictable nature of dangerous levels of SO2 gas because it can be carried far from the fissures with wind speed and direction.”

More than 2,000 people have been evacuated since the Kilauea volcano erupted on May 3, streaming lava and destroying property.

But those still in the area are having trouble protecting themselves from the gases.



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