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Hawaii volcano sends another ash cloud high into the air

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Creeping Lava Now Threatens Major Hawaiian Power Plant

One potential hazard that appeared to have been brought under control was at the Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) plant, which provides about a quarter of the Big Island's electricity. The Leilani Estates neighborhood, where the volcano has been gushing lava on the big island of Hawaii for the past three weeks, is seen at center left part.

Scientists in Hawaii have captured rare images of blue methane flames burning from cracks in the pavement as Kilauea volcano gushes lava in the background.

Lava entered the ocean from a third flow, marking the third week of a Hawaii volcano eruption that has opened up almost two dozen vents in rural communities, destroyed dozens of buildings and shot miles-high plumes of ash into the sky.

Kilauea rumbled back to life on May 3 as it began extruding lava and sulfur dioxide emissions through a series of fissures, marking the latest phase of an eruption cycle that has continued almost nonstop for 35 years.

These were new risks geologists warned of on Tuesday as Kilauea's 19-day eruption showed no sign of easing, with repeated explosions at its summit and fountains of lava up to 160 feet (50 m) from giant cracks or fissures on its flank.

The U.S. Marine Corps said Thursday that it has sent two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters from a base near Honolulu to help if more evacuations become necessary. Each helicopter can carry up to 50 people at a time.

Creeping Lava Now Threatens Major Hawaiian Power Plant
Hawaiian Authorities Work to Protect Power Plant From Lava Flow

Emissions of sulfur dioxide gas, harmful if inhaled, also remained at high levels from newly opened lava-spewing fissures in the ground running through populated areas on the eastern flank of the volcano, authorities said. This ash plume arrived hours after Hawaii officials announced that lava had reached the grounds of a geothermal plant on Big Island.

Officials say almost 50 structures, including dozens of houses, have been destroyed since fissures began opening up in backyards on May 3. One person was seriously injured after being hit by a flying piece of lava.

There continues to be intermittent explosions at the summit that have been sending plumes of ash into the sky. Right before the explosion, there was a 3.9 magnitude quake at the summit.

"The methane gas will flow through the ground, through the cracks that are already existing, and will come up wherever there's a place for them to come up", said Wendy Stovall, a scientist with the US Geological Survey.

County officials said the lava was around 900ft (274m) from the closest well on Monday.

Visitor numbers to the Connecticut-sized island so far in 2018 are "trending a little bit lower" than 2017, with the cancellation of some port visits by cruise ships expected to have a $3 million impact, Ross Birch, head of the island's tourism board said on a conference call.

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