May 24, 2018

Residents Forced To Evacuate After Hawaiian Volcano Erupts

05 May 2018, 02:00 | Yvette Williams

This 2014 image shows lava advancing toward Pahoa

This 2014 image shows lava advancing toward Pahoa

Hawaii County said steam and lava poured out of a crack in Leilani Estates, which is near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island and residents in the Puna community, which is the home of about 10,000 people, were ordered to evacuate.

Video showed lava spurting into the sky from a crack in a road and a line of lava snaking through a forest.

A thick plume of smoke and ash also rose Thursday from the Puu Oo volcanic vent, roughly halfway between Kilauea's caldera and Leilani Estates.

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

For Stephen Clapper, there was no choice after molten rock and sulfur dioxide gas spewed from the ground near his home on Hawaii's Big Island.

"It has now become unnerving", Carol Shepard, a resident, told CNN affiliate KHON.

Eruptions from three small fissures in the Leilani Estates area - mostly "vigorous lava spattering" - continued into Friday, the US Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

Hawaii County Fire Department reports that extremely high levels of unsafe sulfur dioxide gas have been detected in the evacuation area affected by recent volcanic activity. 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. There was another eruption on Friday, and at least a dozen more earthquakes have shaken the area.

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"This stuff could go on for a couple days, weeks or months", Leilani Estates residents Maja Stenback told the Washington Post. In total, thousands of people have been evacuated following the eruption, with Governor David Ige saying he activated military reservists from the National Guard to help with the evacuations.

The agency that operates the county's emergency preparedness and response program has warned residents to prepare for evacuation in case of an eruption. "You know what's going on; we have warning systems".

National Park Service officials have shut down 16,000 acres of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as a precaution.

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

The Kilauea Volcano has been erupting almost continuously for more than three decades. The volcano is thought to be between 300,000 and 600,000 years old, making it one of the youngest in the region.

"Hawaiians and local people have lived here forever", she said.

Geologists said new ground cracks were reported Thursday.

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