1700 ordered to evacuate after Hawaii volcano erupts

Geologists say Puna quakes similar to events leading to 1955 eruption

The eruption came after hundreds of small earthquakes in recent days that followed the collapse of a crater floor on the Puu Oo volcanic cone. White clouds of steam and volcanic gases rose high in the sky above the southeastern part of Hawaii Island.

The first signs of trouble in Leilani Estates came about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, when residents reported plumes of smoke spewing from cracks in the road.

On some streets the bright red-orange lava could be seen spurting out of cracks in the ground. By late afternoon Hawaii time, the fissure had formed, and lava began to splatter the surrounding area.

"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", Osuna told AFP. The eruption sent lava rolling into the streets of Leilani Estates, a subdivision where almost 2,000 people live that's about 220 miles from Honolulu.

Local resident Jeremiah Osuna captured drone footage of the lava burning through the trees in a scene he described as a "curtain of fire".

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said in a statement he's activated the state's National Guard "to provide support to county emergency response personnel to help with evacuations and security".

As dramatic as the sights and sounds were, the eruption and lava flow pose little threat to peoples' lives, thanks to a monitoring and alert system in place for years. "And so we are watching that very, very closely", Miklius said. Talmadge Magno of Big Island's Civil Defense explained, "The best thing they can do right now is stay out of the area. You know, pack a bag and be ready to leave".

The reports come in the wake of a 5.0-magnitude quake that shook the Big Island Thursday morning, and after hundreds of small tremors rattled residents for days.

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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Thursday's strong natural disaster, which struck at about 10:30 a.m. local time, caused "rockfalls and possibly additional collapse into the Pu'u 'Ō'ō crater on Kīlauea", and sent a large plume of ash into the air, the USGS reported.

"You can feel it all the way into the core of your being", she said. "Magma has made its way to the surface and eruption has commenced".

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.

"Living on a volcano, everybody has got pretty thick skin".

She filmed it as the lava splattered across a street before she packed up her vehicle and left with her daughter and grandchildren. But she thought the danger from lava was a remote possibility.

The Hawaii County Civil Defence coordinated an evacuation of the Leilani subdivision but thankfully the breaching lava only travelled a few yards.

"Last night, we started having them. about five a minute".

Aside from legal documents and medication, Stenback said she quickly grabbed sentimental pieces from her jewelry box and stuffed the items into the pockets of her shorts because she didn't have time to properly pack her suitcase.

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