Hawaii volcano: Eruption 'imminent' and area placed on red alert as huge ash clouds billow from Mount Kilauea

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is going to erupt “imminently”, authorities warned as they placed the area on red alert due to huge ash clouds rising from the mountain. 
Thick plumes of grey smoke could be seen bellowing into the sky thousands of feet above the volcano’s summit while lava continued to shoot out from the crater today.
The United States Geological Survey increased the alert warning to red, meaning that a major explosion is “imminent, underway or suspected with hazardous conditions both on the ground and in the air”.
Activity at a vent on Kilauea has sent ash rising up to 12,000ft above sea level, with reports of volcanic matter falling up to 18 miles downwind, the USGS said.

Smoke and lava erupt from a fissure near a home on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions (REUTERS)

"Ash emission from the Kilauea summit vent will likely be variable with periods of increased and decreased intensity depending on the occurrence of rockfalls into the vent and other changes within the vent," a volcanic activity notice read.
"At any time, activity may become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent."