In Brief

Hawaii volcano: mass evacuations as Kilauea erupts

Lava spotted as 1,700 residents flee cloud of sulphuric ash

At least 1,700 people have been evacuated from the area surrounding Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano after it erupted last night, amid fears of lava spewing into residential districts.

Officials have detected extremely high levels of dangerous sulfur in the air, and lava was seen “spurting from a crack in a road in Leilani Estates, located near the town of Pahoa”, USA Today reports. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory confirmed the lava sighting.

Many of the people who fled the area are sheltering at nearby community centres, and there were no immediate reports of injuries.

Hawaii’s governor, David Ige, said that he had activated the island’s National Guard to support local emergency workers with the evacuation process and security, Hawaii News Now reports. Lava was “flowing into streets”, he added.

“The danger is of such magnitude that it warrants preemptive and protective action in order to provide for the safety, health and welfare of the residents of Leilani Estates and surrounding areas,” Ige tweeted.

In 2014, overflowing lava from Kilauea threatened the town of Pahoa for five months, the Los Angeles Times reports, but the flows “shut off before the town could be inundated”.

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