Gas released by volcano eruption poses immediate danger, officials warn

Erika Holt
May 16, 2018

On Monday, the Hawaii State Department of Health warned residents in Lanipuna Gardens of unsafe levels of sulfur dioxide gas.

Officials from the County of Hawaii office have urged locals to avoid the toxic gas, which can prove fatal at high levels, at all costs.

Hawaii County Civil Defense said Monday the gas may cause choking.

The dire warning further stressed the severity of the situation, underlining the gas could affect "the entire exposed population".

Officials warned residents to leave the area and get medical attention if they're affected by the gas.

As volcanic fissures keep opening up on Hawaii's Big Island and spewing out lava, homeowners are desperately trying to find out if their insurance covers possible losses.

Scott McLean, a CNN Denver Correspondent who is at the scene of the erupting Hawaii volcano, tweeted pictures of thick sulphurous residue around cracks in the ground.

The volcano is located in the far east of Hawaii's 4,028-square-mile (10,430-square-km) Big Island, which is home to about 200,000 people.

The lava lake in Hawaii's Kilauea volcano
Gas released by volcano eruption poses immediate danger, officials warn

On Monday, the National Weather Service warned residents of "light ashfall" throughout the day in Kau, the island's southernmost district, after a burst of volcanic emissions. A handful of cruise ships have also decided not to come into port even in Kona on the west side of the island, about 80 miles away from the volcano.

Almost 20 fissures have opened since the volcano started erupting 12 days ago, and officials warn it may soon blow its top with a massive steam eruption that would shoot boulders and ash miles into the sky. Lava flow in the area has paused, but sulfur dioxide gas, which causes acid rain and can be life-threatening, remains a hazard.

Marques, who has asthma, told the news outlet the particles in the air has made it harder for her to breathe.

The lava is also forcing some roads to close.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation is working to reopen the Keaau-Pahoa Road, known as Highway 130, from Malama Street to Kamaili Road on Tuesday morning for local traffic only.

Lava has consumed about two dozen homes near the volcano over the last week and about 2,000 people are evacuated from the danger zone.

Geologists warn Kilauea's summit could have an explosive steam eruption that would hurl huge rocks and ash miles into the sky.

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