Hawaii helicopter evacuation readied as new lava stream hits ocean

People watch at a golf course as an ash plume rises in the distance from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island on May 15, 2018 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii.(AFP)
Updated 25 May 2018
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Hawaii helicopter evacuation readied as new lava stream hits ocean

  • Six huge fissures sent rivers of molten rock through a blackened, volcanic wilderness that was once jungle, farmland and rural homes
  • Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, entered the fourth week of what may be an unprecedented, simultaneous eruption at its summit crater

PAHALA: A third lava flow from Hawaii’s erupting Kilauea volcano streamed into the ocean on Thursday as US Marine Corps helicopters stood by to evacuate a Big Island community should molten rock or huge cracks block its final escape route.
Six huge fissures sent rivers of molten rock through a blackened, volcanic wilderness that was once jungle, farmland and rural homes.
Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, entered the fourth week of what may be an unprecedented, simultaneous eruption at its summit crater and along a six-mile (9.7-km) string of fissures 25 miles (40 km) down its east flank. At about 6 p.m. local time on Thursday, the volcano erupted at its summit, sending ash 10,000 feet (3000 m) into the air. The wind may carry ash to the southwest toward the Pahala area, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.
At least 50 rural homes and other structures have been destroyed by lava from fissures in a small area of the Big Island. Some 2,000 people have faced mandatory evacuations and another 2,000 in coastal communities may be forced to leave their homes if State Highway 130, their last exit, becomes blocked.
The US Marine Corps deployed two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters to Hilo, about 24 miles north (39 miles), in support of a task force standing by in case an air evacuation is needed. Each helicopter can carry up to 50 people at a time.
“We now have the capacity to evacuate all of the estimated population of lower Puna south of the lava flow within a few hours,” Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara of the Hawaii National Guard said in a statement.
Road crews dumped material into cracks on the road and covered them with steel plates in an effort to keep the highway open.
“Talks and discussions have been underway for possible air evacuations if it did come to that,” Tim Sakahara, Hawaii Department of Transportation, told reporters in a conference call.
Up at Kilauea’s 4,091-foot (1,246-meter) summit, at least 12 explosions a day on average are pumping ash plumes thousands of feet (meters) into the sky. Ash drifted up to 26 miles (42 km)southwest to dust the black sands of Punaluu beach with gray powder before blowing out to sea.
Down on the east flank of the volcano, six fissures re-erupted in lava fountains, as volcanic activity moved west toward Highway 130.
Geologists said that after three weeks of escalating activity, Kilauea volcano has entered a “steady state” of eruption.
“It’s probably going to do this for a little while longer,” said US Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall on the conference call, describing the stage of the eruption as the “middle” or “kind of the steady state.”
While a roughly 10-square-mile (26-sq-km) area of the Puna district has been ravaged, authorities stressed the eruption was having limited effects on the Connecticut-sized island that is a major tourist destination.
Norwegian Cruise Line said it would reinstate port calls to the island’s two largest cities, Kona and Hilo, after canceling them in recent weeks. Crystal Symphony cruises also said it planned to return to the two ports after canceling a Wednesday Hilo stop due to “an abundance of caution.”


EU hits Venezuela vice president Delcy Rodriguez with sanctions: Statement

Updated 40 min 33 sec ago
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EU hits Venezuela vice president Delcy Rodriguez with sanctions: Statement

  • EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday formally approved travel bans and asset freezes
  • In January, Europe added seven senior Venezuelan officials including the interior minister to its sanctions blacklist

LUXEMBOURG: Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez was among 11 senior officials hit Monday by EU sanctions over irregularities in the reelection of President Nicolas Maduro, the bloc announced.
“The persons listed are responsible for human rights violations and for undermining democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela. The measures include a travel ban and an asset freeze,” the European Union said after its 28 foreign ministers backed the move at a meeting in Luxembourg.

After the 28 EU states pledged last month to "swiftly" punish Caracas with measures, EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday formally approved travel bans and asset freezes against the 11, who were to be named later in the official announcement.
The EU said last month that Maduro's re-election "lacked any credibility" and did not meet even "minimum international standards" for free and fair polls.
In January, Europe added seven senior Venezuelan officials including the interior minister to its sanctions blacklist, after in November enforcing an embargo on weapons and equipment that could be used for political repression.
Maduro won 68 percent of the vote in the May election, which was boycotted by the opposition and condemned as illegitimate by much of the international community.