Hawaii volcano: Mount Kilauea erupts sending fountains of lava into residential areas

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupts shooting rocks and ash over nearby homes

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has erupted, local officials say, releasing flows of red lava into residential areas and prompting immediate and mandatory evacuations.

Residents said they saw "fountains" of lava rising up to 150 feet (45m) into the air, and images shared on social media showed a plume of red ash rising from the volcano's Puu Oo vent high into the sky over the state's Big Island.

"It sounds like a jet engine. It's going hard,"resident Ikaika Marzo told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Up to 10,000 people were ordered to evacuate as flows of red lava entered residential areas

Residents in the Puna community, home to about 10,000 people, were ordered to evacuate after public works officials reported steam and lava emissions from a crack.

Scientists said areas downslope of the erupting vent were at risk of being covered by lava. Leilani Estates, home to about 1,500 people, appeared to be at greatest risk, but scientists said new vents and outbreaks could occur and it's not possible to say where.

The eruption came after days of earthquakes rattled the area's Puna district, including a 5.0 tremor at about 10.30 am on Thursday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported on its website.

Plumes of ash rose above the Kilauea volcano on Thursday

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.

Ranson Yoneda, the recreation director for the Pahoa District Park, was readying the gymnasium for evacuees after it was selected as a Red Cross evacuation center.

Timelapse video shows lava overflowing at the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii

He said so far, about 15 people have arrived, some with animals, and they are hungry for information.

"They just want to know what's going on because they were told it's a mandatory evacuation," he said by telephone.

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

The collapse caused magma to push more than 10 miles (16km) downslope towards the populated southeast coastline of the island.

USGS geologist Janet Babb said the magma crossed under Highway 130, which leads to a popular volcano access point, on Tuesday night.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency closed the area to visitors on Tuesday and ordered private tour companies to stop taking people into the region.

Most of Kilauea's activity has been nonexplosive, but a 1924 eruption spewed ash and 90-tonne (10 ton) rocks into the sky, leaving one man dead.

Puu Oo's 1983 eruption resulted in lava fountains soaring over 1,500 feet high. In the decades since, the lava flow has buried dozens of square miles of land and destroyed many homes.

Additional reporting by Reuters, AP

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