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Hawaii volcano summit erupts with fresh ashfall

Reuters logo Reuters 6/13/2018

smoke coming out of the water: Lava fragments falling from lava fountains at fissure 8 are building a cinder-and-spatter cone around the erupting vent during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii © REUTERS Lava fragments falling from lava fountains at fissure 8 are building a cinder-and-spatter cone around the erupting vent during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii

The summit of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupted early on Wednesday and fissures on its eastern slope sent fountains of lava up to 160 feet (50 meter) high, as the volcano showed no signs of calming down after six weeks of intensified activity.

A steam explosion at the summit will likely shower communities near the volcano with ash, the Hawaii Civil Defense Agency said on Wednesday.

"The summit explosion produced an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.4," the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday.

The volcano has produced hundreds of moderate earthquakes since it first began erupting on May 3, caused by magma draining from inside the volcano and moving underground.

The magma has been spouting out of fissures from the ground along Kilauea flank, causing mass evacuations from communities. The most active fissure now, called "Fissure 8," continued to pour into the ocean at Kapoho Bay, producing a hydrochloric acid mist called "laze," formed when lava enters seawater.

This photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows new land formed by lava from KIlauea Volcano where the bay and village of Kapoho once stood on the island of Hawaii Wednesday, June 13, 2018. The new coastline, following the ragged lava-ocean interface, is approximately 2.1 kilometers (1.3 miles) in length. The white steamy laze plume marks the location of the most active lava entry site. Photos: Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano erupts Gallery by photo services

"Gas emissions from the fissure eruption and at the ocean entry continue to be very high," the Civil Defense Agency said.

The Kilauea eruption, now in its 41st day, has destroyed more than 600 homes, spread lava over 2,000 acres (810 hectares) of land and opened up at least 22 fissures in the ground, according to Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim.

It is the most destructive in the United States since the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington, which killed at least 57 people.

Hawaii's eruption, however, has produced slow-moving lava that has destroyed hundreds of structures but allowed people to evacuate, in sharp contrast to Guatemala's Fuego volcano that ejected fast pyroclastic flows, which buried villages in burning ash and killed at least 109 last week.

(Reporting by Makini Brice in Washington; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Samdra Maler)

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