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The Latest: Hazardous cloud spreads from where lava hits sea

In this Saturday, May 19, 2018, released by the U.S. Geological Survey, lava emerges from fissures near Pahoa, Hawaii. Kilauea volcano began erupting more than two weeks ago and has burned dozens of homes, forced people to flee and shot up plumes of steam from its summit that led officials to distribute face masks to protect against ash particles. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)
May 20, 2018 - 3:48 PM

PAHOA, Hawaii - The Latest on an erupting volcano on Hawaii's Big Island (all times local):

12:50 p.m.

Scientists say a hazardous cloud billowing from where lava is pouring into the ocean off Hawaii's Big Island may spread as far as 15 miles (24 kilometres) downwind.

U.S. Geological Survey scientist Janet Babb said Sunday that the estimate is based on wind conditions and the vigour of the molten rock entering the sea.

Scientists say the plume is condensed seawater that's laced with hydrochloric acid and glass particles that form when lava interacts with seawater. It can irritate the skin and eyes and cause breathing problems.

Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall says the plume is slightly off the island's southeast coast and runs parallel to the shoreline. The lava haze, or laze, is spreading west from the lava entry point.

If the winds die down, the cloud could flatten.

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11 a.m.

The Coast Guard is warning boats to stay away from where lava is flowing into the ocean on Hawaii's Big Island unless they have prior approval.

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. John Bannon says in a statement Sunday that "getting too close to the lava can result in serious injury or death."

Hawaii County officials say two lava flows are streaming into the ocean, which sends hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles into the air. The plume can lead to lung damage and eye and skin irritation.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory says sulfur dioxide emissions also have tripled. Officials warned people to stay away from the area.

The Coast Guard says it's enforcing a safety zone extending 984 feet (300 metres) around where the lava is entering the sea.

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10:45 a.m.

A Hawaii orchid grower who lives about 3 miles (5 kilometres) down the road from where lava is entering the ocean says nature is reminding everyone who is boss.

Joseph Kekedi says the lava from Kilauea volcano was about a mile upslope from him at one point but luckily the flow didn't head his way in the Big Island coastal community of Kapoho (Kah-POH-hoh).

He said Sunday that lava is flowing into the sea in a sparsely inhabited area of larger properties.

Hawaii County says residents in the area have evacuated.

Kilauea volcano began spewing lava into the air in a residential neighbourhood about two weeks ago. On Saturday, it gushed faster-moving lava that began flowing downhill like a river.

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6:10 a.m.

Officials on Hawaii's Big Island say lava from an erupting volcano has crossed a highway and flowed into the ocean.

Hawaii County Civil Defence said late Saturday that another lava flow is getting close to the highway in the remote, rural area. The highway has shut down in some spots, and residents in the area have been evacuated.

Lava entering the sea produces hazards that can lead to lung, eye and skin irritation. County officials say the phenomenon sends "hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles into the air."

The Kilauea volcano has sent oozing lava and noxious gas into neighbourhoods for more than two weeks, burning homes, driving out residents and producing explosive eruptions at the summit.

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12 a.m.

The saga of a Hawaii volcano's impact on rural communities is heading into its third week.

Dozens of homes have burned, lava has crossed a road and explosions at the summit bring worries about ash fallout.

As lava flows have grown more vigorous, there's concern more homes may burn and more evacuations will be ordered.

Officials want residents in the remote and rural area of the Big Island to heed evacuation warnings. A few people were temporarily trapped when a flow crossed a road. Some had to be airlifted to safety.

The area affected by lava and ash is small compared to the Big Island, which is about 4,000 square miles (10,360 square kilometres). Most of the island and the rest of the state is unaffected by Kilauea's volcanic activity.

News from © The Associated Press, 2018
The Associated Press

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