Friday 20 September 2019

Lava spurts from roads in Hawaiian eruption

Lava spurts from the ground on road near Kilauea volcano
Lava spurts from the ground on road near Kilauea volcano

Rachael Alexander

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has erupted, causing lava to spew out of cracks in the ground in residential areas and prompting thousands of people to flee.

The Pacific island state's governor signed an emergency proclamation releasing disaster funds to the Big Island in the eruption's wake.

Local news footage showed streams of lava snaking through a forest and authorities reported "steam and lava emissions from a crack in Leilani Subdivision in the area of Mohala Street" following the blast.

Residents of that affected area, some 1,700 people, were under mandatory evacuation after the burst from Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

In addition to the obligatory evacuations, many areas fell under voluntary evacuation zones, affecting some 10,000 people, according to a local official.

US Geological Survey (USGS) authorities of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory unit were on the ground and headed into the air to assess the eruption.

It followed some 100 small earthquakes in recent days and began around 4.45pm local time, according to the agency.

Earlier, at 10.30am, a larger 5.0-magnitude earthquake south of the Pu'u 'O'o volcano cone triggered rockfalls and potential collapse into a crater on the volcano, according to USGS.

Following the eruption authorities warned of subsequent "lava inundation," fire, smoke, and additional earthquakes.

The agency said those downwind of the dissipating plume "may experience a dusting of ash," warning of "potentially lethal concentrations of sulphur dioxide gas" in the zone and methane blasts that could propel large rocks and debris into the air.

Governor David Ige activated the state's National Guard troops, and told residents to pay heed to warnings.

Irish Independent

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