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Erupting Hawaiian volcano puts on a smile for the cameras

Wednesday 3 August 2016 | Published in Regional

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HAWAI‘I – A “smiley face” apparing in the crater of an erupting Hawaiian volcano has been captured on film by a helicopter tour company, as thousands came to view the lava slowly oozing into the sea.

The Kilauea volcano has been erupting since 1983, making it one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

But lava from the volcano’s Pu’u O’o crater recently finally reached the sea for the first time since 2013, attracting tourists intent on seeing the moulten red mass hitting the water.

Mick Kalber of helicopter company Paradise Helicopters filmed the spectacular scene, saying in a Vimeo post that the smiley face they captured “announced a gorgeous new ocean entry of Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawai‘i.”

“The volcano goddess Pele’s new flow covered the nearby road and moved quickly to the coast for the first time in three years. Visitors flocked to the eruption for a once-in-a-lifetime up-close view of red hot active lava.”

The US Geological Survey has warned visitors about safety risks, which include flying debris and irritation of the eyes, skin and lungs from fine volcanic particles.

But the warning has not deterred visitors hoping to see the lava flow. Derek Scott, a 16-year-old from Canada, told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald it was “really cool”.

“I’ve never actually seen it that close by. The heat that radiates off the body when you’re that close to it is amazing,” he said. - RNZI/PNC