Hawaii braces for major volcano eruption, prepares for possible evacuation of 2000

Hawaii braces for major volcano eruption, prepares for possible evacuation of 2000

This forced evacuation of more than 10,000 people from within the danger zone.

With scientists warning that a steam-driven volcanic eruption could occur virtually without warning, the Hawaii National Guard is prepared to use ground convoys and even helicopters if necessary to pluck hundreds of residents from an isolated southeast corner of Hawaii's Big Island.

Hawaii tourism officials are hoping Kilauea's eruption won't deter travelers from visiting the state's largest island, even as geologists warn the volcano could soon shoot large boulders out of its summit. "Once a new batch of hotter, gassier magma makes it to the surface we might see larger, higher eruption rates".

More than a week after the eruption of the Kilauea volcano, Hawaii residents felt tremors and earthquakes on Friday as molten rock flowed underground towards a rural area where more lava was expected to burst to the surface and threaten homes.

The magma that has emerged so far has been relatively cool and slow-moving, believed to be left over from a similar event in 1955.

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Hawaii Governor David Ige confirmed the declaration on Friday, with a statement from the White House saying it was signed on Tuesday. 1,700 people have been evacuated. "They should have a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C", said Roann Okomura, a county official who is helping run one of the shelters set up for evacuees.

One resident, Ron Peters, said he knew it was time to leave when vegetation started to wilt amid the foul-smelling sulphur dioxide gas clouds. There were no eruptions overnight, but the O'Neal said the situation is still unstable.

His wife refused to leave and stayed to care for their dogs and chickens.

The new fissure, the 17th to open since Kilauea begun erupting earlier this month, is located half a mile northeast of the end of Hinalo Road, close to the fissure 16 which opened 11 hours earlier.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded more than two dozen earthquakes in the area near the east coast of the Big Island on Saturday alone.

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