Volcano eruption triggers evacuations in Hawaii

People have been evacuated in Leilani Estates in Hawaii after the Kilauea volcano in the Hawaiian Islands erupted on Thursday (local time). 

Leilani Estates is a subdivision in the lower East Rift Zone of the volcano. Shortly after 5pm local time, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said "lava was confirmed at the surface in the eastern end of the subdivision."

Residents in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens were asked by the Hawaii County Civil Defence to evacuate to a local community centre, which is serving as a shelter, CNN reported. 

The Governor of Hawaii's spokeswoman Cindy McMillan said 1700 people in the Leilani Estates were affected by the evacuation order. 

Meteorologist for KDFW FOX quoted a friend on the island in a tweet as saying the fissure was making "a loud whooshing sound" and spewing lava at least 20 feet into the air. 

Kilauea is the most active of the five volcanoes that together form the islands of Hawaii. Located along the southern shore of the island, the volcano is between 300,000 and 600,000 years old and emerged above sea level about 100,000 years ago. 

Hundreds of earthquakes - most of them around 2.0 magnitude - have been recorded in the area recently, CNN reported. The string 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. 

Gov. David Ige reportedly activated the Hawaii National Guard "to help with the evacuations as well as the security of that community."

He urged residents to "stay calm" and continue to stay tuned to emergency alerts.