Volcano eruption, lava forces Hawaii evacuations

(KGTV) - Nearly 1,700 people on Hawaii’s Big Island were forced to evacuate Thursday night after a volcanic eruption and subsequent lava outbreak.

U.S. Geological Survey officials said the Kilauea Volcano erupted at around 4:45 p.m. local time, sending lava through forest lands and dangerously close to residential areas.

Hawaii News Now reported authorities went into the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens neighborhoods and ordered all residents to evacuate.

RESOURCE LIST: Hawaii evacuations

Shelters were set up at the Pahoa Community Center and Keaau Community Center, according to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

Drone images tweeted by the Hawaii News Now show the lava seeping through cracks in the ground.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige activated the state’s National Guard for evacuation and security assistance.

The evacuations came hours after the U.S. Geological Survey reported a 5.0-magnitude earthquake on the island around 1:30 p.m. local time.

RELATED: 5.0 magnitude earthquake strikes Hawaii, stirs fear of volcanic eruption

A large area of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where Kilauea is located, was closed a day before the eruption due to "the possibility of a new eruption and unstable geologic activity."

There is no immediate word on injuries.

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