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Hawaii’s Mount Kilauea erupted from its summit before dawn Thursday, shooting a steely gray plume of ash about 30,000 feet into the sky that began raining down on a nearby town. Officials in Hawaii County said that the explosive eruption happened at 4:17 a.m. (GMT -10).
The explosion came after two weeks of volcanic activity that included the opening of more than a dozen fissures that spewed lava into neighborhoods. At least 26 homes have been destroyed.
The explosion probably lasted only a few minutes, and the ash accumulations were minimal, with trace amounts expected near the volcano and in the town named Volcano, said Mike Poland, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
The crater sits within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which has been closed since May 11 because of the risk of a more violent eruption.