The Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island erupted late Sunday, authorities said, warning of a possible “significant emission” of volcanic ash into the atmosphere.
“An eruption has begun in Kilauea’s summit caldera,” said the United States Geological Survey (USGS) just after 9:30 p.m. local time (07:30 GMT).
“The situation is developing rapidly and HVO (Hawaiian Volcano Observatory) will issue a further statement as more information becomes available.”
Images posted by Hawaii Volcanoes National Park showed billows of red smoke in the night sky.
The USGS warned of “significant emissions of volcanic ash into the atmosphere” and upgraded their aviation color code to red to advise pilots to avoid the Kilauea area.
The National Meteorological Service reported that prevailing winds could drive the ash fall towards communities in the southwest of the Big Island, and said people with breathing problems should take “extra precautions”.
The USGS reported a shallow 4.4 magnitude earthquake near the volcano shortly after the eruption.
A popular tourist attraction, Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and has been erupting regularly since the 1950s.
In 2014, Big Island declared a state of emergency after glowing lava from Kilauea ignited a house and threatened the entire city of Pahoa on the eastern tip of the island.
Hawaii Island or Big Island is the largest of the eight main islands of the Pacific US state – an archipelago with hundreds of smaller volcanic islands.
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