Hawaii volcano forces 1,500 from homes as lava bubbles up
HONOLULU — Nearly 1,500 residents were ordered to evacuate from their volcano-side homes after Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano erupted, sending molten lava to chew its way through forest land and bubble up on paved streets. Volcano officials couldn’t predict how long Thursday’s eruption may last, prompting Hawaii’s governor to activate the National Guard to help with evacuations and provide security to about 770 structures left empty when residents sought shelter. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Steam and lava poured out of a crack in Leilani Estates, which is near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island. Videos showed lava spurting into the sky from a crack in a road. Aerial drone footage showed a line of lava snaking through a forest. County, state and federal 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 centers have opened for shelter. The U.S. Geological Survey said new ground cracks were reported Thursday afternoon. 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 Puu Oo crater floor began to collapse Monday, triggering a series of earthquakes and pushing the lava into new underground chambers. The collapse caused magma to push more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) down-slope toward the populated southeast coastline of the island. The magma crossed under Highway 130, which leads to a popular volcano access point, on Tuesday night.
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