Ash threatens Hawaii communities after volcano explosions

Poisonous gas is spewing out of Kilauea volcano in Hawaii

Poisonous gas is spewing out of Kilauea volcano in Hawaii

Several fissures on the lower East Rift Zone are still active, Hawaii County Civil Defense reported this morning, but the lava flow from fissure 17 has not advanced since yesterday. The warning was raised to red - the highest threat level for aircraft - from the previous orange level (when volcanic ash emissions into the air are less serious) on Tuesday.

The decision was taken after National Weather Service radar and pilot reports indicated the ash cloud rising from the volcano's Halemaumau crater reached heights of 10,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level on Tuesday, the USGS's Hawaii Volcano Observatory (HVO) said in a statement. 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.

Hawaiian authorities have warned that an explosive eruption of Mount Kilauea is imminent following renewed volcanic activity that has left the southeast corner of the Big Island enveloped in ash and roads riven by lava.

The ash isn't toxic but it can irritate the eyes, the nose and airways. Big Island summer hotel bookings have dropped by nearly half from past year, Rob Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitor Bureau, told journalists on a conference call.

At least that is what happened at the appropriately named Volcano Golf & Country Club this week, with a volcano on the island of Hawaii, forcing mass evacuations.

Rockfalls and explosions in Kilauea's crater sent ash and smoke spewing thousands of feet above the volcano, sparking an aviation red alert.

A 20th fissure releasing lava and gases has opened on Kilauea's side, state officials said Tuesday.

Ash erupts from the Halemaumau crater near the community of Volcano during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 15, 2018.

Road crews have put metal plates over steaming cracks on nearby Highway 130 and reopened it to provide residents an escape route from the neighbourhoods bearing the brunt of this disaster.

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