Hawaii bracing for major volcano eruption as alert level heightened


The US Geological Survey (USGS) raised its alert level for Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano on Tuesday evening.

One lava bomb crashed through the roof of a nearby porch, officials have said, and holiday rentals have been forced to suspend operations to conserve water and resources for residents.

Ash emission from the Overlook crater within Halemaumau has generally increased this morning compared to previous days.

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

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

According to the USGS, ash has fallen as far as 18 miles from the volcano.

Avoid excessive exposure to ash which is an eye and respiratory irritant.

"It's optimistic to think that this is the last fissure we're going to see", said Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Deputy Scientist-In-Charge Steve Brantley.

Risky levels of sulfur dioxide were rising from some fissures, Hawaii County officials told CNN. "Severe conditions may exist such as choking and inability to breathe". "This is a serious situation that affects the entire exposed population".

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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.

It is more than a mile long but its advance has slowed to 20 yards per hour, slightly more than a quarter-mile a day. The closest resort areas - in Kona and the Kohala Coast - are more than 100 miles away from the volcano, reported USA Today.

Hawaii County Civil Defense issued an emergency cellphone alert after the fissure was discovered early Sunday morning.

"I have respect for the lava and for Pele", he told the news outlet, referring to the Hawaiian goddess of fire.

"When you move to this volcano, or move to this island, you move into her house", Bersamina said. So far, at least 37 structures have been destroyed, and counting.

With a lava lake inside the volcano falling, scientists are anxious that it could be building up to a huge eruption or that lava could force its way through the ground in other neighbourhoods. Scientists say the risk of a new, explosive eruption will go up in the next few weeks.

Birch told the station that some bed-and-breakfasts have also had to shut down and refund guests tens of thousands of dollars as a result of the eruption.

Why? To start with, geologists think much of the magma oozing from the ground into the community of Leilani Estates since May 3 - miles east of Kilaeua's summit - may have been stored in underground channels in the volcano's rift zone since a 1955 eruption.