Hawaii's Big Island on high alert after earthquakes, lava fissures

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Those who watch a livestream of the Hawaii volcano will see the most powerful eruptions to strike the state in more than 40 years.

The volcano has been spewing ash and lava, while the earthquakes have also strengthened - the latest being a 6.9 on Friday afternoon, the largest to strike the area since a 7.5 natural disaster rocked the island in 1975.

The latest series of earthquakes began on Thursday with a 4.6 magnitude quake, which shook the islands active volcano Kilauea.

That quake killed two people and injured 28.

If anyone was complacent Friday about the power of Pele, they might have been jolted to their senses by a magnitude-6.9 quake - Hawaii's strongest since 1975.

The Kilauea Volcano has been erupting almost continuously for more than three decades.

Aerial footage showed orange lava bubbling up from a fissure around 500 feet (150 meters) long and spouting into the air like a fountain.

Residents in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions, home to about 1,700 people, were ordered to evacuate after public works officials reported steam and lava burbling up from cracks in the road, the county's Civil Defence said. Even people living in areas that are safe from the eruptions have been unable to return because of lingering high levels of Sulphur dioxide, the report added.

The broader district potentially impacted by the threat is home to some 10,000 people.

Several eruptions from Kilauea Volcano from Thursday night to Friday morning damaged at least two homes and forced thousands of residents to evacuate, the authorities said, reporting no casualties so far.

National Guard personnel are assisting with evacuations of residents, security of the neighborhoods and the monitoring of risky sulfur dioxide gas.

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It caused buildings to shake at the Community Center in Pahoa town, one of two evacuation centers in the area hastily set up after lava started burbling up through fissures in the ground in neighborhoods nearby.

The eruption was preceded by hundreds of small earthquakes in recent days.

Scientists are investigating whether the earthquakes are affecting the eruption of Kilauea.

It sent a short-lived but massive pink plume of ash wafting into the air. "That's why they are reluctant to leave", she said.

"You can't really predict what Pele is going to do", Woolsey said, referring to the Hawaiian volcano goddess. "We're just getting a series of earthquakes".

The volcano is erupting and lava flows have covered 48 square miles, some of it in residential areas.

Governor Ige activated the state's National Guard troops, and told residents to pay heed to official warnings. Areas like Nanawele Estates, Leilani Estates and the coastal area of Kapoho could be affected by the volcanic eruption.

The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency reported that the threat of a tsunami was low following the earthquakes, though officials warned that residents were not in the clear yet.

Geologist Janet Babb of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said that scientists had been following an "intrusion of magma" down the rift zone since Monday afternoon in anticipation of a possible eruption.

The civil defense agency said there was "active volcanic fountaining" in the neighborhood, meaning the lava was springing up from ground fractures; reports indicated it was shooting 80 to 100 feet into the sky.

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