Ten thousand Hawaii residents have been ordered to evacuate their homes after the Big Island’s Kilauea volcano erupted and began spewing lava and deadly gases into the air.
The eruption was accompanied by a 5.0 magnitude earthquake, followed by hundreds of smaller tremors
Warning sirens sounded across the Big Island at 4.30pm on Thursday as Hawaii County Civil Defense urged residents of Leilani Estates, in Puna, to flee the approaching lava streams.
A 492ft fissure opened in the ground with lava flowing from it for around two hours, officials said, with magma a few feet before stopping. Geologists warned the eruption is still ongoing.
Dangerously high levels of sulfur dioxide have also been detected in the air near the volcano, which is harmful to humans if breathed in and can cause acid rain after combining with water.
Lower Puna resident Ikaika Marzo told the Honolulu Star Advertiser that he saw ‘fountains of lava’ shooting 150 feet in the air and molten lava spreading down Mohala Street in Leilani Estates.
Scroll down for video
At least a dozen small earthquakes rattled the region since the volcano erupted at midnight, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Resident Ikaika Marzo said he could feel the quakes shake the area in the early morning hours and saw the eruption around 1:30 a.m.
The two new eruptions happened less than a day after another eruption created a fissure in the community, spewing lava into the air as high as utility poles, covering roads and nearing several homes.
Two emergency shelters have been opened for evacuees — one at Pahoa Community and the Keaau Community centers — and a number of families had hunkered down at the facilities for the night.
Fire officials warn they’ve detected extremely high levels of dangerous sulfur dioxide in Leilani Estates and are reiterating this message: Get out of the community — if you haven’t already — and stay out until the threat has passed.
HVO said the first eruption that started in late afternoon Thursday ended about 6:30 p.m., after creating a fissure that sent lava soaring as high as 125 feet into the air. About 10:30 p.m., geologists confirmed the fissure (whose length was not immediately clear) was no longer erupting.
They stressed, however, that new lava outbreaks remain a possibility.
“The opening phases of fissure eruptions are dynamic and uncertain. It is not possible at this time to say when and where new vents may occur,” the observatory said, in its latest update. “Areas downslope of an erupting fissure or vent are at risk of lava inundation. At this time, the general area of the Leilani subdivision appears at greatest risk.”
Within hours of the eruption Thursday, Gov. David Ige had activated the Hawaii National Guard and issued an emergency disaster proclamation. FEMA is also mobilizing resources.
In an interview with Hawaii News Now, Ige urged evacuees to “stay calm” and continue to stay tuned to emergency alerts.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
May 4th, 2018