Hawaii’s restless Kilauea Volcano has stepped-up its long-running rumblings, flinging heavy clouds of ash high into the sky and unleashing lava flows on a residential area where home owners were ordered to evacuate without delay.
The eruption occurred after a series of earthquakes on the Big Island, as locals call it, over the last couple of days, including a 5.0 tremor at about 10.30am (local time) on Thursday, the US Geological Survey reported on its website.
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, according to media and the county’s website.
Resident Ikaika Marzo told Hawaii News Now that he saw “fountains” of lava.
“It sounds like a jet engine. It’s going hard,” he said.
Fiery fountains of molten rock shot 50 metres in the air, with lava spreading out to cover an area of nearly 200 metres wide behind one house , Big Island resident Mr Marzo told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
County, state and federal officials had been warning residents all week they should be prepared to evacuate, saying a full-blown and potentially catastrophic eruption would give little warning.
The Kilauea Volcano has been erupting nearly continuously for more than three decades.
Lava flows from the volcano, one of five on the island, have buried 125 square kilometres, according to the US Geological Survey.