Hawaii volcano Kilauea erupts with 9000-meter ash plume

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Rainfall appeared to limit its dispersal mostly to around the caldera.

The noxious gas, normally emitted at unsafe levels only from the volcano's Halemaumau Crater, was seeping at a greater rate from the fissures in Leilani Estates, a residential area of about four square miles in the Big Island's Puna district.

Thousands of masks for protection against rising ash levels have been handed out.

The volcano has been violently erupting since the beginning of the month, its deadly lava spreading into residential areas. Masks are limited to one per family member.

Kanani Aton, a spokeswoman for Hawaii County Civil Defence, said she spoke to several relatives and friends in the town called Volcano.

"It's just time to go - it really, really is", she said, preparing to leave town.

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The ash was a bit of an irritant, he said, but "not too bad". Pahala is located southwest of Kilauea and is often downwind.

Mr Laceby sealed windows and cracks in his home with cellophane wrap to keep out ash and volcanic gases.

The crater spewing ash sits within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which has been closed since May 11 as a safety precaution over risks of a violent eruption.

The eruption of the Kilauea volcano has already destroyed houses, caused evacuations and threatened to wreak havoc on Hawaii's tourism industry.

"We've been expecting this, and a lot of people are going to see it and get excited and scared", he added.

Ash is not toxic but can irritate the throat or lungs, and can make for hazardous driving conditions, particularly if mixed with rain.

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It caught sight of an explosive eruption on Thursday morning at Kilauea's summit. That's where the explosion can also send hot gas and 1,000-pound rocks soaring. This means the molten rock is low in viscosity, appears smooth, and generally moves slowly.

About 2,000 people have been evacuated.

That activity alongside the East Rift Zone caused a dramatic depressurization of the magma column below Kilauea's summit, which slowly draining the lava lake in the summit crater.

Scientists are warning this could be the first in a string of more violent explosive eruptions, with the next possibly occurring within hours.

At least one person who was wake heard nothing.

Magno said the road remains open and the state Department of Transportation was conducting repairs.

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