WASHINGTON – After two weeks of activity, an explosive eruption took place at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said Thursday.
A Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency message posted at 5am warned residents that an “explosive eruption” had taken place and that the “resulting ash plume will cover the surrounding area,” advising people in its path to seek shelter.
The US National Weather Service (NWS) issued an ashfall advisory, in effect until 6 pm, nearly 20 hours after the explosive eruption began.
According to the NWS, the ash cloud reached “nearly 30,000 feet shortly after the initial explosion.”
On Wednesday, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) issued a “red alert,” meaning that a volcanic eruption was imminent and that the ash clouds could affect air traffic.
In the last two weeks, at least 1,700 people have been evacuated from their homes and some 40 buildings and dozens of cars have been destroyed by the lava.
Last Friday, following a request by state governor David Ige, US President Donald Trump declared a “major disaster” in Hawaii after several days of volcanic activity.
The declaration makes federal funding available to support state and local recovery efforts.
Since the eruption began on May 3, some 20 fissures have opened up in Kilauea’s eastern rift zone, the Honolulu Star-Adviser reported.
The eruption has also triggered numerous earthquakes, including at least one registering 5.0 on the Richter scale.
The Kilauea volcano is located on the southeastern part of the island of Hawaii, which is the largest of the Hawaiian islands and is home to 185,000 people.
Honolulu, the state capital, is located on the island of Oahu.