Hawaii bracing for major volcano eruption as alert level heightened

Hawaii bracing for major volcano eruption as alert level heightened

Hawaii bracing for major volcano eruption as alert level heightened

"So, it intensified today but it wasn't the big one".

He said he wasn't really afraid of the destruction happening around him.

"I've actually seen rocks fly over the tree line, and I can feel it in my body", Schott told the Associated Press.

A wide angle camera view captures the entire north portion of the Overlook crater as the eruption continued at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano.

"We're observing more or less continuous emission of ash now with intermittent, more energetic ash bursts or plumes", Steve Brantley, a deputy scientist in charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), said on a conference call with reporters.

The USGS changed its aviation color code for the area to red.

"It's a severe impact to a very, very small part of the population", he said.

Authorities have issued an ashfall advisory for the island's southernmost district until 6 p.m.

Geologists warn that Kilauea's summit could have an explosive steam eruption that would hurl rocks and ash miles into the sky.

Ash is not poisonous but causes irritation to the nose, eyes and airways. The gases are especially risky for the elderly, children, babies and people with respiratory problems, officials said.

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The Civil Defense Agency said unsafe gas was issuing from fissures near the town of Lanipuna Gardens, which has been evacuated, and urged residents to stay away.

No deaths or major injuries have been reported, but officials have ordered about 2,000 residents to evacuate the area.

Since Kilauea began erupting on May 3, almost 2,000 people have been ordered to evacuate as 18 giant fissures ripped through the area, including two new ones that opened on Sunday with ear-piercing screeches that sent lava and rocks flying. This is a slowing from 100 yards per hour as it was tracked during the weekend. The latest fissure is by the Lanipuna Gardens. To the east of the summit, toxic gas emanating from steaming gashes around 25 miles (40 km) toward the coast added to the danger facing residents, whose escape routes are threatened with closure because of lava flows, officials said.

CNN's Stephanie Elam said her heart started pounding as she approached one fissure.

The Hawaii State Department of Health is asking the general public to avoid any area with fissures because the gases emitted require special cartridge respirators.

Remaining locals put out bottles of alcohol on Tuesday as offerings to the Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire.

Cancelations from this month through July have hit at least US$5 million, said Ross Birch, executive director of the island's tourism board.

Scorching lava has already swallowed dozens of homes and vehicles. The largest projectile was about six feet in diameter and still sits south of Halema'uma'u along the current Chain of Craters Road as a mute reminder of how an apparently tame summit crater can become violent even with no new lava in evidence. The intense heat may cause that water to boil and result in eruptions.

That year a long-lived deep lake of bubbling molten basalt lava, a very popular tourist attraction, unexpectedly began to drop downward until it was no longer visible.

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