Governor asks Trump to declare Hawaii a 'major disaster'

Hawaii asks Trump to declare state of disaster for volcano eruption

As fissures opened up on Kilauea's slopes, geologists also watched as levels of the Halema'uma'u lava lake at the volcano's summit dropped nearly 1,000 feet.

On Friday, four members of the US Congress representing the state said in a letter to the US President that Donald Trump must immediately approve a disaster declaration for areas impacted by the ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island.

The Leilani Estates residential area remains in greatest danger, with 15 volcanic fissures so far having destroyed 36 structures, majority homes, and forcing the evacuation of about 2000 residents.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPruitt dined with Cardinal accused of sexual abuse: report Kelly: No consideration on leaving White House despite "times of great frustration" Kelly: Trump "embarrassed" by Russian Federation probe MORE on Friday approved a disaster declaration for Hawaii as the state deals with damage from a volcanic eruption on its largest island.

The volcano has been sputtering lava for a week, forcing about 2,000 people to evacuate, destroying two dozen homes and threatening a geothermal plant.

"One of the things I love about Kilauea is that it's so well-monitored and so well-studied - the more we know, the more we realize we don't know", she said.

The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park around the summit was closed to visitors on Thursday, given risks of the first explosive eruptions in almost a century, which could launch refrigerator-sized "ballistic blocks" over half a mile (0.8 km) and send ash columns tens of thousands of feet into the atmosphere.

Neal said fresher, hotter lava could emerge because magma has been moving down Kilauea's rift zone toward the area where the volcano is erupting.

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On Thursday night, Hawaii County officials sent a text message warning residents that changing wind patterns could bring more sulfur dioxide gas from the volcano into the air, which can cause respiratory problems and, in some cases, death.

No one lives in the immediate area of the summit crater.

An explosive eruption could also ground planes at one of Big Island's two major airports and release steam and toxic sulfurous fumes.

Janet Coney, office manager of the Kilauea Lodge, an inn and restaurant, said officials told her lodge employees probably won't have to worry about rocks raining down on them but might experience falling ash. The Puna Geothermal Venture plant has about 50,000 gallons (189,270 liters) of pentane.

Scientists say active eruption of lava within the Leilani Estates remains paused.

The small, aptly named town of Volcano, Hawaii, population 2,500, is about three miles from the summit.

Kilauea began erupting over a week ago.

Authorities on Thursday completed the removal of highly flammable chemicals from a nearby geothermal power plant that was in the path of creeping lava. The observatory, which is part of the U.S. Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program, released a warning stating that the current conditions near and in the Kilauea volcano may provoke further explosions.

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