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Hawaii Declares Emergency as Massive Volcano Erupts

Big Island neighborhood evacuated
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2018 2:00 AM CDT
Updated May 4, 2018 6:36 AM CDT
In this photo released by U.S. Geological Survey, a plume of ash rises from the Puu Oo crater on Hawaii's Kilaueaa Volcano, Thursday, May 3, 2018.   (U.S. Geolgogical Survey via AP)
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(Newser) – Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has erupted, prompting Gov. David Ige to declare a state of emergency and activate the National Guard. Soldiers have been called in to assist with the mandatory evacuation of the Leilani Estates neighborhood in the Puna district of Big Island, which is in danger of being inundated by lava, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. The eruption sent lava flowing through the subdivision, where vapor is emerging from cracks, and witnesses say they saw fountains of lava rising around 150 feet from a crack in the volcano, reports the AP. Emergency shelters have been opened for around 1,700 people affected by the evacuation order.

The eruption follows hundreds of earthquakes over the period of several days, most of them around 2.0 magnitude, CNN reports. The most severe was a 5.0 magnitude earthquake Thursday morning, according to the US Geological Survey. One local man tells KHON 2 that he flew his drone near a "curtain of fire" moving toward residential areas. "It sounded like if you were to put a bunch of rocks into a dryer and turn it on as high as you could," he says. "You could just smell sulfur and burning trees and underbrush and stuff." Scientists say there's a lot of magma in the extremely active volcano's reservoir and they're not sure how long the eruption will last.

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