Hawaii volcano erupts from summit, shooting plume of ash

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An explosive eruption has rocked the summit of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, vomiting a large plume of ash almost nine kilometres into the sky early Thursday.

At least one person who was wake heard nothing.

Explosions in Kilauea's crater sparked an aviation red alert due to risks the ash plume could blow into aircraft routes and damage jet engines.

On Tuesday, the National Weather Service issued an ashfall advisory for Hawaii. The toxic cloud spread ash for miles surrounding the Halemaumau crater.

Mike Poland, a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey, confirmed the explosion and said people needed to shelter in place.

Later emissions continued as high as 12,000 feet, USGS said.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has found dense, large rocks roughly two feet in diameter (60 centimeters) in a parking lot a few hundred yards (meters) away from Kilauea's summit crater.

More than 1800 residents in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens had been ordered to leave their homes since Thursday, when public works officials first reported steam and lava erupting from fissures in a road, Ms Gabbard said.

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"In the old days, people used to love to come see the volcano".

"They said they slept through it". "Now they're acting like it's all super-dangerous and everything, but it just kind oozes out".

Staff at the volcano observatory and the national park had been previously evacuated.

The news comes amid worsening air quality conditions on the Big Island, and as civil defense authorities continue to respond to Kilauea's ongoing eruptions in lower Puna, where thousands of people remain under mandatory evacuation orders.

Officials have said the eruption isn't likely to be unsafe as long as people stay out of the closed park. At present, Kilauea volcano is still having one of the most long-lived eruptions known on earth, which started in 1983 on the eastern rift zone and has mainly been concentrated at the Pu'u 'O'o vent.

Scientists have warned that eruptions at the summit could send heavy ashfall across communities near the summit and toss boulders "the size of cows" as far as a half a mile.

It's one of five volcanoes on Hawaii's Big Island, and the only one now erupting.