The Kilauea volcano on the island of Hawaii erupted on Thursday, scarring forests and sending plumes of ash thousands of feet into the sky.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige issued an emergency proclamation, and authorities ordered residents to evacuate as fissures spewed lava and molten rock up to 100 feet in the air in the Leilani Estates subdivision, which is located 25 miles from Kilauea.
“It sounded like there were rocks in a dryer that were being tumbled around,” Jeremiah Osuna, a local resident told The Washington Post. “You could hear the power of it pushing out of the ground.”
The eruption intensified over the weekend, destroying at least 26 homes and four other buildings and forcing 1,700 people to evacuate from Leilani Estates. Authorities have locked down the subdivision, and no residents are allowed in. Police say some residents are still trapped in their homes, but there’s no way to rescue them right now, CBS reported.
The US Geological Survey is warning locals that more fissures may open up in the area in the coming days.
Beyond the immediate fire danger from the lava, high levels of sulphur dioxide spewing from the volcano pose a serious threat to children, elderly people, and people with respiratory issues.
Dramatic photos from the US Geological Survey show lava pouring into residential neighbourhoods around a series of volcanic fissures that have opened. Here’s what it looks like on the ground:
Smoke and ash started rising from the Pu’u O’o vent in the hours before the eruption on Thursday.
A magnitude 5.0 earthquake that struck the area earlier was a clue that an eruption could be coming.
That earthquake caused the Pu’u O’o vent to collapse, leading lava to flow underground toward the area where the eruption occurred in Leilani Estates.
This aerial view of the collapsed crater shows smoke and ash rising from the middle.
This image comes from a thermal camera that USGS scientists placed near another active vent on Kilauea called Halemaumau. Lighter colours mean higher temperatures.
Over the last five days, lava has flowed into the Leilani Estates subdivision of Hawaii’s Puna district, a neighbourhood within Kilauea’s east rift zone.
The first small fissure opened up around 5 p.m. on Thursday, spewing lava and gas into the neighbourhood and onto roads.
This fissure remained active for over an hour, scarring forests and forcing some residents to evacuate. Other fissures have since opened.
Over the weekend, the eruption intensified. As of Sunday night, there were 10 active fissures in Leilani Estates.
Slow-moving lava has destroyed 26 houses and downed trees in the area.
Local residents reported seeing lava rolling down neighbourhood streets over the weekend as more fissures tore the ground open.
One such fissure can be seen trailing down the flank of the Pu’u O’o vent, where the line of white steam is rising.
The lava flow has also downed power lines in Leilani Estates.
Authorities say there’s not much they can do to rescue residents trapped in the neighbourhood as the eruption intensifies.
Hawaiian residents left offerings of leaves, rocks, and cans to the fire goddess Pele in front of the lava.
In some cases, the eruptions were so violent lava shot hundreds of feet into the air.
Hawaii’s Big Island was rocked by more earthquakes over the weekend as well.
The lava flows have left dark volcanic rock scattered in their wake.
Unfortunately for local residents, it’s difficult to predict when this eruption will stop.
“There’s more magma in the system to be erupted. As long as that supply is there, the eruption will continue,” a USGS volcanologist told the Associated Press.
Source: Associated Press