1700 ordered to evacuate after Hawaii volcano erupts

1700 ordered to evacuate after Hawaii volcano erupts

At least nine homes have been destroyed after the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's largest island erupted and continued to open fissures in the ground Sunday.

The volcano, one of five on the island, erupted on Thursday after a series of earthquakes over the last couple of days, including a 5.0 tremor earlier in the day, the U.S. Geological Survey reported on its website.

"The area continues to be unstable with volcanic venting and related hazards of natural disaster and poisonous gases ongoing", the Hawaii Civil Defense Agency said.

Amber Makuakane, 37, a teacher and single mother of two, said her three-bedroom house in Leilani Estates was destroyed by lava. The largest natural disaster so far was a magnitude 6.9 quake caused by the movement of magma underneath the volcano.

USGS video showed lava pouring out of the vents and flowing through swaths of dense trees, across roads and near homes. The gas can cause skin irritations and breathing difficulties. He has remote cameras set up in his home and says that as of now his home is still intact.

"I was a critical care nurse for 37 years, so I understand the health implications and the dangers involved", he said.

State Sen. Russell Ruderman said he's experienced many earthquakes, but the magnitude-5.4 temblor that hit first "scared the heck out of me".

"The closest resort areas, in Kona and the Kohala Coast on the island of Hawaii's west side, are more than 100 miles away from where the lava flow is occurring and shielded by the massive mountains of Maunakea and Maunaloa".

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Hawaii Electric Light said the jolt knocked out power to about 14,400 customers, but electricity was restored about two hours later.

Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, has been in constant eruption for 35 years.

Officials at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, scene of a mandatory evacuation order Friday, were assessing roads and trails on Sunday as they weighed whether to reopen.

Cherie McArthur wondered what would become of her macadamia nut farm in Lanipuna Gardens, another evacuated neighborhood near Leilani Estates.

Residents of Leilani Estates are still being allowed to briefly return to gather medicines, pets and other essentials. The flow may eventually follow the path of older lava fields previously carved out by past eruptions.

Fire officials conducted another safety sweep of homes Sunday and watched helplessly as the lava engulfed a green single-story house.

And the earthquakes did not stop, they kept moving east, past Highway 130, the main road connecting communities on the southeastern corner of the Big Island, and scientists and civil engineers (and residents) became anxious that there could be an eruption close to communities. As molten rock moved underground from the collapsed lava-filled crater in the East Rift Zone to a lower elevation, the moving magma increased pressure in the entire area, Stovall said.

Kilauea hasn't been the kind of volcano that shoots lava from its summit into the sky, causing widespread destruction.

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