Ash erupts near Kilauea Volcano, prompts red alert in Hawaii

Before-and-After Satellite Images Show Damage Caused By Lava From Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano

According to Terry Sylvester of Reuters, officials have issued a red alert for airplanes flying over the area, along with an "unhealthy air" advisory for the community of Pahala, which is located 18 miles from the summit.

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

Kilauea's ash cloud prompted the U.S. Geological Survey to raise the alert level for aviation to red due to risks ash could blow into aircraft routes and damage jet engines.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory deputy scientist in charge Steve Brantley said: We're observing more or less continuous emission of ash now with intermittent, more energetic ash bursts or plumes. They have been prevented from returning home by toxic gases, falling ash and fissures which opened in the ground and began spewing molten lava.

Levels of the toxic gas are unsafe in some places, Hawaii County officials said.

"Severe conditions may exist such as choking and inability to breathe", officials said. "This is a serious situation that affects the entire exposed population".

Then there's the risky lava.

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"According to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory there is no geologic evidence for an tsunami-generating natural disaster at this time".

There was no effect on air carrier operations to Hawaii on Wednesday, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said in an email.

Workers will put metal plates over the cracks on parts of state Highway 130 near the Leilani Estates subdivision to maintain two lanes of traffic.

Hawaiian authorities have warned that an explosive eruption of Mount Kilauea is imminent following renewed volcanic activity that has left the southeast corner of the Big Island enveloped in ash and roads riven by lava.

Dozens of homes and swathes of farmland in that area have been destroyed.

Almost two weeks after the fissures began to open up, geologists continued to watch Kilauea's main crater amid the possibility that a violent eruption was coming.

The intense heat of this material hitting the water causes the water to boil, which in turn creates an explosion of steam, water, ash, rock, and lava bombs.

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