Hawaii asks Trump to declare state of disaster for volcano eruption

Villagers look on as Mount Sinabung volcano spews thick volcanic ash in Karo Indonesia on Friday May 19

President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in Hawaii following a request by the state's governor due to the volcanic activity continuing to wreak havoc on the island.

PAHOA, Hawaii Kilauea volcano is threatening to blow its top in coming days or weeks after sputtering lava for a week, forcing about 2,000 people to evacuate, destroying two dozen homes and threatening a geothermal plant.

The problem is the lava lake at the summit of Kilauea is draining fast, about 6.5 feet per hour, Mandeville said.

Since the eruption started more than a week ago, around 2,000 residents have been evacuated and 27 homes have been destroyed, with lava now covering more than 117 acres of land.

George Szigeti, CEO of the Hawaii Tourism says Kilauea is being monitored constantly and says the Big Island is "immense" and there are large parts that are unaffected by the volcano.

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If volcanologists can better understand Kilauea and underlying reasons for its seemingly odd behaviour, Johnson said it could help them better understand other volcanoes.

"If it goes up, it will come down", said Charles Mandeville, volcano hazards co- ordinator for the US Geological Survey.

Kilauea, which is one of the world's most active volcanoes, also threatens to begin a series of explosive eruptions within days or weeks that could form huge clouds of volcanic smog, or vog, and hurl boulders as big as small cars. "You don't want to be underneath anything that weighs 10 tons when it's coming out at 120 miles per hour".

Vehicles wait in line to enter Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, Thursday, May 10, 2018.

Officials are also warning residents of toxic sulfur dioxide emissions.

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Scientists say the explosive eruption could occur even as the volcano continues to splatter and ooze lava out of its eastern flank into a residential area. She's anxious potential flight disruptions would strand them on the island.

She said that's why the lava has been cool and has been moving a little sluggishly. There were no eruptions overnight, but the O'Neal said the situation is still unstable.

In little more than a week, the top of the lava lake has gone from spilling over the crater to nearly 970 feet below the surface as of Thursday morning, Mandeville said.

Officials with the agency wouldn't estimate the likelihood of such an explosion, but called it a "distinct possibility".

"It's just terrible. You can't breathe in there", said evacuated resident Robynn Stagg, 58, who drove through the thick, orange sulfur dioxide haze earlier this week in a failed attempt to check on her home. This is an unnerving prospect indeed, because this could set off a series of powerful steam explosions that could shower the surrounding area with 10-ton molten rocks and spew ash as far as 20 miles away. If it happens again, the danger zone could extend about 3 miles (5 kilometers) around the volcano, Mandeville said.

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