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Hawaii volcano blasts spark red alert for avation

Reuters PAHOA, Hawaii (Reuters) — Explosions intensified on Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano on Tuesday, spewing ash and triggering a red alert for aircraft for the first time since the latest eruption began 12 days ago.

Ash and volcanic smog, or vog as it is called, rose to 3,657 meters above Kilauea’s crater and floated southwest, showering cars on Highway 11 with gray dust and prompting an “unhealthy air” advisory in the community of Pahala, 29 kiliometers from the summit.

An aviation red alert means a volcanic eruption is under way that could spew ash along aircraft routes, the U.S. Geological Survey said on its website.

Ash was also a new hazard for residents of Hawaii’s Big Island, already grappling with volcanic gas and lava that has destroyed 37 homes and other structures and forced the evacuation of about 2,000 residents.

A shift in winds was expected to bring ash and vog inland on Wednesday and make them more concentrated, said John Bravender of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“We’re observing more or less continuous emission of ash now with intermittent, more energetic ash bursts or plumes,” Steve Brantley, a deputy scientist in charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said on a conference call with reporters.

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