Hawaii: Kilauea eruption forces residents to seek shelter

Ash shoots 9,000 metres into the sky on Hawaii's Big Island following major Mount Kilauea volcanic eruption.

    Lava spatters from the Kilauea volcano near Pahoa, Hawaii [USGS via AP]
    Lava spatters from the Kilauea volcano near Pahoa, Hawaii [USGS via AP]

    Authorities warned residents on Hawaii's Big Island to take cover following an explosive volcanic eruption that sent ash shooting 9,000 metres into the sky.

    The Mount Kilauea volcano erupted from its summit before dawn on Thursday at around 4am local time (14:00 GMT), the US Geological Survey said in a statement.

    "At any time activity may again become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent," USGS said.

    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".

    Residents in areas near the volcano told The Associated Press they experienced light amounts of ash accumulation following the eruption.

    Island authorities warned winds could carry the ash as far as the town of Hilo, about 50km away from Mount Kilauea, home to about 43,000 people.

    Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983, but sputtering lava from openings on the volcano's slopes in recent weeks has forced about 2,000 people to evacuate and while dozens of homes were destroyed.

    US President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in Hawaii last week. The declaration allows the US government to use federal funds to supplement state and local recovery efforts in areas affected by the lava and a recent earthquake.

    On May 4, Hawaii's Big Island was hit by a magnitude 6.9 earthquake, the most powerful to hit the island since 1975.


    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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