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New eruption at Hawaii volcano prompts evacuation, produces ash cloud higher than Mount Everest

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A powerful but short-lived explosion occurred at the summit of the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island, producing a massive volcanic cloud, officials said.

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The cloud reached 30,000 feet above sea level — higher than Mt. Everest, officials said at a news conference.

Staff from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park were evacuated and officials warned residents in the path of the ash plume to shelter in place. Officials later said the ash fall was mostly localized.

PHOTO: A view is captured from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory in Kilauea, Hawaii, May 17, 2018.USGS via Polaris
A view is captured from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory in Kilauea, Hawaii, May 17, 2018.
PHOTO: This May 17, 2018, image provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows a view of the ash plume resulting from an early morning explosion at Kilauea Volcano, in Hawaii.U.S. Geological Survey/HVO via AP
This May 17, 2018, image provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows a view of the ash plume resulting from an early morning explosion at Kilauea Volcano, in Hawaii.

Activity may become more explosive at any time, the U.S. Geological Survey said today, “increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent” within Halemaumau Crater at the volcano’s summit

The newest eruption follows a damaging earthquake, dangerous volcanic smog, and large lava flows that are all threatening Hawaii’s Big Island.

PHOTO: People play golf as an ash plume rises in the distance from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaiis Big Island, May 15, 2018, in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. Mario Tama/Getty Images
People play golf as an ash plume rises in the distance from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island, May 15, 2018, in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii.

Kileaua erupted May 3, and since then, fissures have been steadily cracking open near residential areas. Volcanic smog — known as “vog” — is now being emitted by the fissures, traveling toward populated areas and threatening residents with dangerous sulfur dioxide.

PHOTO: This image released by the U.S. Geological Survey on May 17, 2018 shows lava spattering from an area between fissures 16 and 20 at 8:20 a.m. HST from the Kilauea Volcano, May 16, 2018.HO/AFP/Getty Images
This image released by the U.S. Geological Survey on May 17, 2018 shows lava spattering from an area between fissures 16 and 20 at 8:20 a.m. HST from the Kilauea Volcano, May 16, 2018.
PHOTO: Lava illuminates volcanic gases from the Kilauea volcano at fissure 13 on Hawaiis Big Island, May 16, 2018, in Pahoa, Hawaii.Mario Tama/Getty Images
Lava illuminates volcanic gases from the Kilauea volcano at fissure 13 on Hawaii’s Big Island, May 16, 2018, in Pahoa, Hawaii.

A magnitude-3.5 earthquake struck near the summit of the volcano on Wednesday, damaging roads and buildings, rupturing water lines, and causing a temporary loss of power.

PHOTO: Lava illuminates volcanic gases from the Kilauea volcano at fissure 13 on Hawaiis Big Island, May 16, 2018, in Pahoa, Hawaii.
SLIDESHOW: PHOTOS: Hawaii volcano emits hazardous gases and flowing lava

On Tuesday, large rock falls into the Halemaumau Crater created the largest series of ash plumes yet observed since the change in volcanic activity began, the National Park Service said.

On Wednesday scientists found two-foot-wide rocks that had been hurled from the crater in the parking lot a few hundred yards from Halemaumau.

“These reflect the most energetic explosions yet observed and could reflect the onset of steam-driven explosive activity,” the park service said Wednesday, citing U.S. Geological Survey data.

PHOTO: This image released by the U.S. Geological Survey on May 17, 2018 shows a view uprift from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory overflight at 8:25 a.m.HST from the Kilauea Volcano, May 16, 2018.HO/AFP/Getty Images
This image released by the U.S. Geological Survey on May 17, 2018 shows a view uprift from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory overflight at 8:25 a.m.HST from the Kilauea Volcano, May 16, 2018.
PHOTO: This May 15, 2018 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows incandescence observed at Fissure 14 around 10:30 a.m. HST at Kilauea Volcano, in Hawaii.U.S. Geological Survey/HVO via AP
This May 15, 2018 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows incandescence observed at Fissure 14 around 10:30 a.m. HST at Kilauea Volcano, in Hawaii.

The biggest of the 20 fissures cracked open with lava on Chris Berry’s 18-acre homestead.

“We noticed cracks in the road, and shortly afterward, it just blew. It was so fast,” Berry told ABC News. “Where the lava is now used to be a giant bowl — it’s completely filled now.”

The pastureland where cows and sheep once roamed is now filled with a lake of lava 60 feet deep.

Berry, a father of three and Grammy-winning musician, said his home has been severely damaged by lava bombs and all but two acres have survived the lava’s onslaught. The volcanic eruption is harming his livelihood, he said, as he owns a music retreat and cultural center on his land.

PHOTO: Lava from active fissures illuminates volcanic gases from the Kilauea volcano as stars shine on Hawaiis Big Island, May 15, 2018, in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii.Mario Tama/Getty Images
Lava from active fissures illuminates volcanic gases from the Kilauea volcano as stars shine on Hawaii’s Big Island, May 15, 2018, in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii.
PHOTO: Lava shoots into the night sky from active fissures on the lower east rift of the Kilauea volcano, May 15, 2018, near Pahoa, Hawaii.Caleb Jones/AP
Lava shoots into the night sky from active fissures on the lower east rift of the Kilauea volcano, May 15, 2018, near Pahoa, Hawaii.



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