Hawaii volcano in explosive eruption

Communities a few kilometres away may be showered by pea-size fragments or dusted with nontoxic ash

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has erupted from its summit, shooting a dusty plume of ash about 30,000 feet into the sky.

Mike Poland, a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey, confirmed the explosion on Thursday.

It comes after more than a dozen fissures recently opened miles to the east of the crater and spewed lava into neighbourhoods.

Those areas were evacuated as lava destroyed at least 26 homes and 10 other structures.

The crater sits within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which has been closed since May 11.

Officials have said they did not expect the explosion to be deadly as long as people remained out of the park.

Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanoes.An eruption in 1924 killed one person and sent rocks, ash and dust into the air for 17 days.

Scientists warned on May 9 that a drop in the lava lake at the summit could create conditions for an explosion that could fling ash and boulders the size of refrigerators into the air.

Scientists predicted it would mostly release trapped steam from flash-heated groundwater released as though it was a kitchen pressure cooker.

Communities a few kilometres away may be showered by pea-size fragments or dusted with nontoxic ash, they said.

Kilauea volcano has been erupting continuously since 1983.

It's one of five volcanoes that comprise the Big Island of Hawaii, and the only one currently erupting.