The US state of Hawaii’s volcano erupted Thursday, causing lava to spew out of ground fissures in residential areas and prompting thousands of people to flee.
The Pacific island state’s governor signed an emergency proclamation releasing disaster funds to the Big Island in the eruption’s wake.
Local news footage showed streams of lava snaking through a forest and The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency reported “steam and lava emissions from a crack in Leilani Subdivision in the area of Mohala Street” following the blast.
Residents of that impacted area, some 1,700 people, were under mandatory evacuation after the burst from the Kilauea volcano, one of the most active volcanos in the world.
In addition to the obligatory evacuations, many areas fell under voluntary evacuation zones, affecting some 10,000 people, according to a local official.
US Geological Survey authorities of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory unit were both on the ground and headed into the air to assess the eruption, which followed some 100 small earthquakes in recent days and began around 4:45 pm local time (0245 GMT Friday), according to the agency.
Earlier, at 10:30 am, a larger 5.0-magnitude earthquake south of the Puu Oo volcano cone triggered rockfalls and potential collapse into a crater on the volcano, according to USGS.
Big Island resident Janice Wei told AFP she felt “a big shake underneath my feet” and then said immediately after she saw a giant pink plume of smoke.
“We’ve been waiting for big movement from the crater, after so many small earthquakes,” she told AFP.
Using his drone, area resident Jeremiah Osuna captured video footage of the red-hot lava flow, describing it as a “curtain of fire.”