New lava fissure on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano prompts more evacuations

Updated 2018-05-14 16:03:04 Xinhua

Lava erupts from a fissure east of the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018.

A huge new fissure opened on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, emitting active fumes and lave spatter, has prompted local government to call for more evacuations as an expected eruption threatened nearby homes.

The Hawaii County Civil Defense issued an alert message Sunday evening after the fissure was discovered in the morning, saying "Fissure No. 18 has opened up near a place between fissure No. 16 and No. 17, which both opened up some 300 feet apart from each other on Saturday."

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) cautioned about the possibility of an explosive eruption at Halema'uma'u Crater, which is a pit crater located within the much larger summit caldera of Kilauea, saying the withdrawal of lava from Kilauea summit lake could lead to a steam-driven eruption and such an eruption could generate ash plumes as high as 20,000 feet (6100 m).

Residents in the immediate area were told to evacuate, and two nearby community centers were serving as shelters for people and pets.

"There may be little to no advance notice to evacuate, so take this time to prepare," the Civil Defense said, "Off-road sightseeing is prohibited. Stay out of the active eruption area."

New video posted online Sunday night showed Kilauea remains very active. The latest fissure made a roaring sound similar to a jet engine as the mountain spewed chunks of lava into the air.

Vacation rentals in the area are order to cease operations to relieve the demand for water as well as to reduce population in the area so emergency crews can focus on residents who live in the area.

The HVO said if an explosive eruption occurred, the area affected by ash plumes could be as wide as 12 miles (20.3 km).

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency said in a press release earlier on Saturday that U.S. President Donald Trump had approved a major disaster declaration for the state of Hawaii, providing state and local authorities with federal assistance in their recovery efforts in the areas affected by the ongoing eruption of the Kilauea volcano.

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