Hawaii residents urged to take shelter following volcano eruption

Hawaii residents urged to take shelter following volcano eruption

Hawaii residents urged to take shelter following volcano eruption

Michael Poland of the U.S. Geological Survey, agreed, saying there's no concern that Kilauea could explode like Mount St. Helens did back in 1980. She told a morning news conference in Hilo that the event was "consistent with what we were thinking might happen".

Mr. Poland said the explosion likely only lasted a few minutes and that ash accumulations were minimal, with likely trace amounts near the volcano and at the town, named Volcano.

A Hawaii state senator who is also a physician on the Big Island says people should stay indoors until volcanic ash has settled.

Observatory scientist Steve Brantley says it's too risky to send geologists to measure any possible boulders after the summit of the volcano spewed ash about 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) into the air Thursday.

Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, last experienced explosive eruptions in 1924.

Scientists warned May 9 that a drop in the lava lake at the summit might create conditions for a large explosion. National guard troops were forced to don gas masks at a nearby road intersection, according to a Reuters reporter.

Hawaii Volcano
Ash emerges from the Pu'u O'o vent on the Kilauea volcano last week. Kevan Kamibayashi US Geological Survey

Since the volcanic activity began on May 3, the residents of the lower Pahoa area have been the worst hit, with the neighbourhoods of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens, with a population of 2,000, now fully evacuated. "These areas are hazardous to enter, due to continued ground swelling, cracking sudden fissure activity and unsafe levels of sulfur dioxide", the advisory said. "Kilauea and Mount St. Helens are different in nearly every imaginable way", she said.

No injuries were reported. "There may not necessarily be a big one, based on past eruptions at Kilauea", she said, but if there is, it could come in the days and weeks ahead.

Another phone alert warned: "The wind may carry the ash plume north toward Kau, Volcano, Mt View, Kea'au and as far as Hilo". Passenger jets generally cruise at around 30,000 feet, the height of Thursday's plume.

Authorities evacuated people from around Kilauea's crater area and urged those in the vicinity of the volcano to take shelter.

However, early on Thursday afternoon ashfall was limited to only light, wet deposits about 5-6 km northwest of the summit, as rain over the volcano curbed the spread of ash.

USGS has warned that steam-driven eruptions could hurl boulders weighing as much as 12 tons up to a half mile from the crater.

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