By Susan McFarland – UPI
Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed an emergency proclamation late Thursday, following the eruption of the Kilauea volcano.
Earlier, the volcano began emitting lava, prompting Hawaii County Civil Defense to order thousands to evacuate.
A 4.6-magnitude earthquake shook Hawaii Thursday morning, causing rockfalls and a possible collapse in the crater of the Kilauea’s Puu O’o vent, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.
A cloud of pink ash and smoke billowed into the air after the quake, as officials warned residents along the east rift zone to prepare to evacuate — ahead of a major eruption that could come with very little warning.
Ige signed the proclamation Thursday evening after lava began to flow onto streets in a subdivision near the volcano.
The subdivision, with about 770 structures, is under a mandatory evacuation and residents are being sheltered at a community center, the governor’s office said.
“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 said.
“The state is actively supporting the county’s emergency response efforts. I have also activated the Hawaii National Guard to support county emergency response teams with evacuations and security.”
The Hawaii Fire Department said late Thursday extremely high levels of dangerous sulfur dioxide gas was detected in the evacuation area.
“Elderly, young, and people with respiratory issues need to comply with the mandatory evacuation order and leave the area,” Ige said. “Residents evacuating should ensure to bring your emergency evacuation supply kit including necessary medicine, food, and necessary items for your comfort if possible.”