Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano spewed ash nearly six miles (9 km) into the sky on Thursday and scientists warned this could be the first in a string of more violent explosive eruptions with the next possibly occurring within hours.
“This has relieved pressure temporarily,” US Geological Survey geologist Michelle Coombs told a news conference in Hilo. “We may have additional larger, powerful events.”
Residents of the Big Island were warned to take shelter from the ash as toxic gas levels spiked in a small southeast area where lava has burst from the ground during the two-week eruption.
The wind could carry Kilauea’s ash plume as far as Hilo, the Big Island’s largest city and a major tourism center, the County of Hawaii Civil Defense warned in an alert.
“Protect yourself from ash fallout,” it said.
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