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Kilauea volcano erupts, Hawaii hands out 18,000 ash masks

After an eruption from the Kilauea volcano's summit shot ash and smoke 30,000 feet into the air on Thursday, official...

Posted: May 18, 2018 9:24 AM
Updated: May 18, 2018 9:24 AM

After an eruption from the Kilauea volcano's summit shot ash and smoke 30,000 feet into the air on Thursday, officials handed out almost 18,000 masks to help residents deal with the fallout.

Rain kept the ash from going very far, and the ashfall was light, but officials still warned people in the area on Hawaii's Big Island to stay indoors and to use the masks.

US Geological Survey geologist Michelle Coombs described the event as "energetic, but short-lived" and said most of the debris ejected from the crater likely fell near the explosion site.

Officials expect volcanic activity to continue, citing a similar series of events in 1924 that lasted 2- weeks.

"This event is far from over," said Talmadge Magno, civil defense administrator for Hawaii County.

Magno said 18,000 masks that protect from particulates like ash were given out Thursday. More masks are on the way.

The masks do not protect against sulfur dioxide, a toxic gas that is still seeping from 21 fissures caused by volcanic activity. No new fissures, or vents in the ground, opened Thursday, he said.

Scientists with the USGS have not yet figured out the cause of explosions like the one that happened Thursday morning.

But they expect them to continue.

"At any time, activity may again become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent," the USGS said. "Ballistic projectiles may be produced should steam-driven explosions occur. Impacts will be limited to an area around Halemaumau."

Halemaumau is the crater within Kilauea's summit caldera.

Thursday's eruption is just the latest volcanic activity contributing to the nightmare on the Big Island since the volcano first went off on May 3.

An ash plume Wednesday rose roughly 12,000 feet into the air, and on Tuesday, the USGS issued a red alert, which means a major eruption is imminent or underway and ash could affect air traffic.

Recent explosions have been steam-driven, occurring when water beneath the ground or on the surface is heated by magma, lava, hot rocks or new volcanic deposits, the USGS says.

Hawaii County officials have warned residents about sulfur dioxide, which is so thick in one area that authorities evacuated a neighborhood. No further evacuations are necessary at this point, Magno said.

He was more concerned that people staying in an area authorities are concerned about will lose their utilities.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige complimented the response of residents and the pre-explosion work done by authorities.

"We had prepared for the event," he said.

The governor also told potential tourists to come.

"I would like to also remind the rest of the world as well as the rest of the state, Hawaii Island continues to be open for business," he said. "The eruption site and the lava flows are in a very small portion of the island."

The international airports in Hilo and Kona are open, officials said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 292811

Reported Deaths: 6613
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19515228
Hinds18611385
Harrison16431275
Rankin12543261
Jackson12419216
Lee9641160
Madison9378194
Jones7857145
Forrest7094136
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Monroe3977126
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Scott291867
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Holmes181470
Clay177848
Stone171129
Tallahatchie169239
Clarke168271
Calhoun155527
Smith151531
Yalobusha142236
Greene126533
Walthall123340
Noxubee122629
Perry120934
Montgomery120537
Lawrence119021
Carroll117223
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Webster109229
Jefferson Davis99931
Tunica98023
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Benton92524
Humphreys91326
Kemper89422
Quitman76614
Franklin75419
Choctaw69416
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson61027
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 490220

Reported Deaths: 9744
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson704661342
Mobile35810721
Madison32203443
Tuscaloosa23961409
Montgomery22417489
Shelby21773211
Baldwin19635272
Lee14883147
Morgan13571248
Etowah13118312
Calhoun13090283
Marshall11212203
Houston10036257
Limestone9321133
Elmore9313179
Cullman8864177
St. Clair8771220
Lauderdale8570210
DeKalb8419173
Talladega7450162
Walker6492249
Jackson6466102
Autauga617285
Blount6072125
Colbert5978118
Coffee5229100
Dale4614106
Russell401431
Franklin397675
Covington3948105
Chilton383196
Escambia376670
Tallapoosa3559139
Clarke342749
Dallas3396140
Chambers3393103
Pike292771
Lawrence281284
Marion280793
Winston245665
Bibb243759
Marengo238554
Geneva238468
Pickens223554
Barbour209550
Hale208464
Fayette199356
Butler195165
Henry182341
Cherokee176338
Monroe165638
Randolph162740
Washington156233
Crenshaw143353
Clay143254
Macon140543
Cleburne136539
Lamar131632
Lowndes130148
Wilcox120825
Bullock116534
Conecuh106523
Perry105327
Sumter98231
Coosa86823
Greene86732
Choctaw54723
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