The “red” level aviation alert due to the ongoing eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano remains in effect as of Thursday, May 17. A red alert indicates that a major volcanic eruption may be imminent. The decision, made by the US Geological Society on May 15, came amid intensifying ash eruptions and explosions causing rock projectiles. Flight disruptions due to the presence of ash in the atmosphere are possible in the coming hours and days, notably at Kona International Airport (KOA).
Nearby residents on Hawai'i Island (“Big Island”) are being told to be prepared to evacuate on short notice; 1700 people have already been evacuated in recent days. A number of earthquakes have also shaken the area, the strongest of which have measured 5.0 on the Richter scale.
Kilauea began erupting on May 3. Lava flows have since destroyed dozens of homes and led to evacuations from the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens communities. Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park has been closed since May 11 as a precaution. US President Donald Trump has declared a state of major disaster in Hawaii, making federal funding available for recovery operations. No casualties have been reported as of early May 17.
Individuals in Hawaii are advised to avoid the affected area, monitor the situation, confirm flight reservations, follow any instructions issued by the local authorities (e.g. evacuation orders), and wear respiratory masks and covering clothing to protect skin if ash as present.
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