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Hawaii volcano shoots lava 300 feet into air

By Danielle Haynes

May 18 (UPI) -- Eruptions at Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii's Big Island sent columns of lava shooting up to 300 feet in the air Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The agency's Hawaii Volcano Observatory said there are now 22 fissures associated with the volcano on Hawai'i Island, with lava eruptions from six of them in lower Puna.

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Hawaii County Civil Defense said lava flow has destroyed 40 structures, more than 20 of which are residences. Officials ordered the evacuation of hundreds of residents and have restricted access to some areas due to increasing sulfur dioxide emissions.

Hawaii Electric Light warned residents to be aware of possible downed power lines and to assume all lines are active. The Department of Water Supply put an emergency water restriction into place between the communities of Kapoho and Pohoiki.

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HVO warned of future fissures southwest and northeast of existing outbreaks.

"Communities downslope of these fissures could be at risk from lava inundation," the observatory said. "Activity can change rapidly."

On Thursday, an early-morning eruption sent a plume of ash up to 30,000 feet into the sky, prompting ashfall advisories from the National Weather Service through Thursday evening.

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Civil defense issued free masks for residents due to ash in the air.

On Wednesday, the USGS recorded about 125 shallow earthquakes around the volcano and nearby areas.

The HVO said satellite images captured by the Italian Space Agency's Cosmo-SkyMed show changes to the caldera area of the volcano between May 5 and Thursday. The images indicate an accumulation of ash over the span of time, an increase of the summit eruptive vent from about 12 acres to 34 acres and the development of a depression about 15 acres in size on the east rim of Halema'uma'u/

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The depression "reflects slumping of a portion of the rim towards the growing collapse pit on the crater floor," the HVO said.

Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

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