Hawaii volcano erupts forcing residents to flee

Thousands of people were evacuated in Hawaii after Kilauea volcano erupted on Thursday sending fountains of lava into the air through ground fissures, agency reports say.

The eruptions, which began around 4.45 pm local time (0245 GMT), were preceded by dozens of earthquakes in recent days, according to US Geological Survey (USGS) authorities of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory unit.

Steam and lava emissions from a crack in Leilani subdivision in Mohala Street forced residents to flee. A local community centre has been opened to residents impacted by the threat.

In a tweet, Hawaii Governor David Ige said the National Guard troops have swung into action and residents should be alert and keep themselves safe.

All areas bordering East Rift Zone are at high risk for eruption, said Hawaii County’s mayor Harry Kim.

Earlier, a 5 magnitude earthquake struck south of the Puu Oo volcano cone around 10.30 am triggering eruptions after rocks fell into a crater on the volcano, USGS said.

A plume of ash that rose from the volcano is drifting southwest and a wind could dust areas in ash, the agency said.

Authorities have warned residents of lava flows, fire, smoke, and more earthquakes.

The high concentration of sulphur dioxide and methane in the seismic zone could trigger blasts bringing down large rocks and debris in nearby areas.