The Latest: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park assessing damage
HONOLULU (AP) — The Latest on the slowing of Kilauea volcano’s eruption (all times local):
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is taking advantage of a lull in Kilauea’s eruption to assess damage to the park.
The Park Service said in a statement Friday a specialized team will thoroughly assess damage from the eruption. The assessment will form the foundation of the park’s recovery plan.
Superintendent Cindy Orlando says the park is exploring short-term repairs to safely reopen at least part of the park.
Two million people visit the Big Island park each year, making it the state’s biggest tourist attraction.
But the park has been closed since May because of the dangers posed by the eruption. That’s hurt the island’s tourism-dependent economy. The number of travelers to the island dropped 4.8 percent in June from the same month last year.
Slowing activity at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is prompting scientists to downgrade their alert level for the mountain.
The U.S. Geological Survey said Friday it issued a “watch” for Kilauea’s ground hazards. That’s down from a “warning.”
But scientists say this doesn’t mean the eruption that has destroyed more than 700 homes since May is over.
Geologists say lava mostly stopped flowing on Aug. 6. There’s a crusted-over lava pond inside a fissure cone and just a few spots where lava is entering the ocean.
The volcano’s summit hasn’t collapsed since Aug. 2. Sulfur dioxide emissions are the lowest they’ve been since 2007.
The agency has maintained a “warning” alert for Kilauea since May 3, when cracks began shooting lava out of the ground in the Big Island’s Leilani Estates neighborhood.