Hawaii Volcano forces 1500 residents to evacuate
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Over 1,500 residents were ordered to evacuate from their homes after Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano erupted, sending molten lava through forest land and bubbling up on the streets. A magnitude 5.0 earthquake was recorded just hours before Thursday's eruption, and two more earthquakes have occurred since.
The strongest of the earthquakes that have occurred after the eruption was 6,9 on the Richter scale.
The government have sent out warnings for toxic smoke in the area. The erupting volcano, Kilauea, is one of five volcanoes on Hawaii´s Big Island, which is the main island of the two Hawaii islands.
Volcano officials couldn't predict how long Thursday's eruption may last. Hawaii's governor chose to activate the National Guard to help with evacuations and provide security to about 770 structures left empty.
There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Hawaii County officials said steam and lava poured out of a crack in Leilani Estates, which is near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island.
Footage shown on local television showed lava sewing into the sky from a crack in a road. Aerial drone footage showed a line of lava snaking through a forest.
Asta Miklius, a geophysicist with the USGS Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory, told The Associated Press in a phone interview that there is no way to know exactly how long the eruption will continue.
"One of the parameters is going to be whether the summit magma reservoir starts to drain in response to this event, and that has not happened yet," Miklius said. "There is quite a bit of magma in the system. It won't be just an hours-long eruption probably, but how long it will last will depend on whether the summit magma reservoir gets involved. And so we are watching that very, very closely."
Explosive eruption in 1924
Officials had been warning residents all week that they should be prepared to evacuate, as an eruption would give little warning. Officials at the U.S. Geological Survey on Thursday raised the volcano's alert level to warning status, the highest possible, meaning a hazardous eruption is imminent, underway or suspected.
Nearby community centres have opened for shelter.
The U.S. Geological Survey said new ground cracks were reported Thursday afternoon. Hot vapour emerged from a crack and lava began to erupt.
Scientists said areas downhill of the eruption were at risk of being covered by lava. Leilani Estates appeared to be at greatest risk, but scientists said new vents and outbreaks could occur and it's not possible to say where.
'Lava is coming out ... and it's shooting 50 feet high,' says resident from town of Puna
The eruption comes after days of earthquakes rattled the area's Puna district. A nearby school was closed due to the ongoing seismic activity and several roadways cracked under the strain of the constant temblors. A magnitude 5.0 earthquake was recorded hours before the eruption began Thursday.
The collapse caused magma to push more than 16 kilometres downslope toward the populated southeast coastline of the island.
Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency closed the area to visitors on Tuesday and ordered private tour companies to stop taking people into the region.
Most of Kilauea's activity has been nonexplosive, but a 1924 eruption spewed ash and threw 9 metric tonne rocks into the sky, killing one man.
Puu Oo's 1983 eruption resulted in lava fountains nearly 460 metres high. In the decades since, lava flow has buried dozens of square miles of land and destroyed many homes.
Photo: (Above) This April 22, 2018, photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows a line of spattering along a lava lake margin with spatter being ejected well above the level of the Halema'uma'u Crater floor and occasional small bits landing on the rim with a piece of the thin, flexible crust on the lava lake being lifted and torn by a bubble burst at left in Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii's Big Island.
Video from the CBC news show