Thousands ordered to evacuate homes on Hawaii after Kilauea volcano erupts

COURTESY HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY           A view of the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u at the summit of Kilauea on Monday

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupted Thursday, sending lava shooting into the air in a residential neighborhood and prompting mandatory evacuation orders for nearby homes. Video footage of the event shows fiery lava flows spewing debris and clouds of ash and smoke.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that a mandatory evacuation was in effect for Leilani Estates residents from Luana Street to Mohala Street.

Earlier, at 10:30 am, a larger 5.0-magnitude natural disaster south of the Puu Oo volcano cone triggered rockfalls and potential collapse into a crater on the volcano, according to USGS.

"White, hot vapor and blue fume emanated from an area of cracking in the eastern part of the subdivision", the US Geological Survey said.

Kilauea is located along the southern shore of Hawaii, the largest of the Hawaiian island chain and known as the Big Island.

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"It was like if you put a bunch of rocks into a dryer and turned it on - a lot of earth and pressure and fire just moving around", he told AFP. Altogether in recent days, more than 250 small temblors have been recorded, including a magnitude 4.0 tremor just offshore of Puu Oo early Tuesday.

Among those facing down the unknown was Stephen Clapper, who told KHON that his mother had to flee without her portable oxygen.

According to the Civil Defense Agency, extreme levels of risky sulphur dioxide gas have been detected in the area.

A 492-foot-long (150-meter) fissure erupted with lava for about two hours in Leilani Estates at about 5:30 p.m. local time, the Hawaii Volcano Observatory said on its website.

"This stuff could go on for a couple days, weeks or months", Leilani Estates residents Maja Stenback told the Washington Post. "You know what's going on; we have warning systems".

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Local community centers in the broader district, home to some 10,000 people, were open to residents impacted by the threat, Hawaii's emergency management agency said.

The Hawaii governor activated the National Guard to help with evacuations and provide security to about 770 structures left empty when residents sought shelter.

The Puu Oo crater floor began to collapse Monday, triggering a series of earthquakes and pushing the lava into new underground chambers.

Geologists said new ground cracks were reported Thursday.

Given the possibility of a new outbreak, Hawaii County has closed the Kalapana lava viewing area.

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She said the flurry of earthquakes seemed to happen every minute. "It'd be like somebody that weighs 300 pounds came in my living room, and jumped up and down".

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