Explosive eruption rocks Hawaii's Kilauea volcano

Friday, 18 May, 2018

Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanoes.

Lava spits out from a fissure created by the eruption of Kilauea, on the big island of Hawaii.

Activity may become more explosive at any time, the U.S. Geological Survey said Thursday, "increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent" within Halemaumau Crater at the volcano's summit.

Washington state Sen. Maria Cantwell says her state has five of the highest-threat volcanoes in the nation. "I said, 'I'm surprised you're not getting folks from California, but sure I'll go'".

At least one person who was wake heard nothing. He told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann via FaceTime he left from the Colorado Springs airport Tuesday afternoon.

The wind could carry Kilauea's ash plume as far as Hilo, the Big Island's largest city and a major tourism center, the County of Hawaii Civil Defense warned in an alert. "I think the worst case is about 1,000", he said, but "some may elect to stay there because they are so self-sufficient".

"Like back home in Colorado when there's a wildfire, there's always people who are wondering what's happening to their house", he said.

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The National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System Act unifies existing volcano monitoring systems and creates a national Volcano Watch Office that will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to monitor all active volcanoes in the US and its territories, according to Hirono's office. Hawaii's state volcanologist, Bruce Houghton, says that the current event appears to be a type of complex eruption that occurs only once every 50 to 80 years.

Hawaii's Civil Defence Agency warned the ash plume would likely "cover the surrounding area" and advised the island's residents to "shelter in place".

Authorities have warned residents to stay away from the neighborhoods evacuated, warning that toxic sulfur dioxide seeping out of almost two dozen fissures - cracks in the ground - caused by the volcano could prove deadly. "The safety of our communities is paramount, and our legislation will ensure we have the science, technology, and monitoring needed to keep people informed and safe".

A spike in toxic sulfur dioxide gas closed schools around the village of Pahoa, 25 miles (40 km) east of the volcano, where lava from fissures has destroyed 37 homes and other structures and forced about 2,000 residents to evacuate. Scientists said the molten rock there could start moving faster if fresher, hotter magma emerges from the ground. "They'd even take their little postcards, burn one corner in the lava flow, mail then off, stuff like that", he said.

The bill also creates a Volcano Watch Office that will operate 24-hours a day, seven days a week, to provide continuous situational awareness of all active volcanoes in the US and its territories, such as the ongoing eruption of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii.

Hoyt said he will continue to help with the Red Cross on the Big Island for two weeks.