President Trump Declares Kilauea Eruption A Major Disaster

Leroy Wright
May 13, 2018

Last week's explosion of Kilauea, the longest-erupting volcano on the planet, forced some 1,700 people to abandon their homes and destroyed 36 structures when a flow of red-hot underground magma burst through the surface in the Leilani Estates - a residential area about 40 miles from the volcano's crater - sending up torrents of molten rock and toxic gases.

Dustings of ash were expected downwind of Kilauea on Thursday, local time, as summit earthquakes set off rockfalls into the lava lake and sent up plumes of steam, ash and smoke, the USGS said.

The eruption didn't stop Matthew and Angelina Coney, who flew in for their honeymoon even though the lava outbreak began the day they married in Fresno, California. Now they've cancelled their trip.

Hawaii County Civil Defense officials urged residents in a community near Kilauea Volcano to be vigilant amid ongoing volcanic activity and hazardous emissions - and to be prepared to evacuated on short notice, CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB reports.

More than a dozen fissures oozing lava have opened in the ground.

"What we've already been seeing is that chunks of the surrounding vents are just dropping off into the lava and that's why we're getting these small explosions", said Jessica Johnson, a volcanologist at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. It's been sluggish and somewhat cooler as a result, she said.

Scientists said Wednesday the risks of an explosive summit eruption will rise in coming weeks as magma drains down the flank of the volcano.

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Like the town of Kamuela which is home to vast cattle ranches and Hawaii's own cowboys, called paniolo.

Workers are moving the fuel to an industrial park about 30 miles (48.2 kilometers) away.

Ross Birch, the executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau, said he knows that officials "walk the fine line".

David Ige says President Donald Trump has approved his request for a presidential disaster declaration for the Big Island as the state copes with Kilauea volcano's eruption. "And we don't want to seem callous and inconsiderate in our messaging and our promotion of the island", he said. But he also tells Reuters that there's not too much cause for alarm for most people.

The disaster declaration means that federal assistance will be available for public facilities such as roads, public parks, schools and waterpipes damaged or destroyed by the Kilauea volcanic eruption and earthquakes.

The money will also cover costs associated with geologists and emergency responders on the island.

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