Officials on Hawaii had been warning residents all week they should be prepared to evacuate as an eruption would give little warning. And now, Mount Kilauea volcano has erupted near a residential area on Hawaii's largest island, prompting a local state of emergency.
At least 1,700 people must evacuate the area. Extremely high levels of dangerous sulphur dioxide gas have been detected, the Civil Defense Agency announced. Hawaii's Governor David Ige has activated military reservists from the National Guard to help evacuate people. Strong earthquakes occurred strong earthquakes over recent days. Kilauea is the most active of the five volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaii.
The volcano is between 300,000 and 600,000 years old and emerged above sea level about 100,000 years ago. The first well-documented eruption of Kīlauea occurred in 1823. In January 2011, an eruption has produced 3.5 km3 (1 cu mi) of lava and resurfaced 123.2 km2 (48 sq mi) of land. Historically, the five volcanoes on the island were considered sacred by the Hawaiian people. In 1916, a bill forming the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson. Since then, the park has become a World Heritage Site and a major tourist destination. It is attracting more than 2,5 million people annually. Because of its position more than 3,000 kilometers (2,000 mi) from the nearest continental landmass, the island of Hawaiʻi is one of the most geographically isolated landmasses on Earth.