Kilauea volcano in Hawaii erupted Thursday, releasing lava into a residential area, which led to mandatory evacuations of nearby residents.
According to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Leilani Estates, a subdivision in the lower East Rift Zone of Kilauea volcano, was the one most affected.
“Shortly before 5 p.m., lava was confirmed at the surface in the eastern end of the subdivision,” it said.
The Hawaii County Civil Defense required from residents in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens to leave their homes and to evacuate to a local community center, which is used as a shelter. The governor’s spokeswoman, Cindy McMillan, said that about 1,700 people in the Leilani Estates area are under the evacuation order.
Governor David Ige said that he ordered the Hawaii National Guard to help with evacuations and security.
“I urge residents in Leilani Estates and the surrounding areas to follow instructions. … Please be alert and prepare now to keep your family safe,” he tweeted.
CNN reported that the evacuation comes after hundreds of earthquakes shook the eastern side of the Big Island.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Geological Survey stated that the magnitude of the strongest earthquake was 5. It happened on Thursday morning and in less than 30 minutes two more quakes shook the area, registering at 2.5 and 2.7. There have been a total of six smaller earthquakes since the biggest one, the agency said.
“The frequency of the minor earthquakes decreased Thursday compared to the preceding days,” the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said in a statement.
Kilauea is considered to be one of the world’s most active volcanoes. It resides in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which has closed off 15,700 acres due to “the possibility of a new eruption and unstable geologic activity,” the park said in a statement.
Since Monday, hundreds of earthquakes, most of them around 2.0 magnitude, have been recorded in the area. The series of earthquakes came after a collapse of a crater floor of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, which is a volcanic cone in the eastern rift zone of the Kīlauea Volcano, CNN wrote.