9-magnitude natural disaster hits Hawaii

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The eruption began around 4.45 p.m. local time on Thursday and caused hours of "lava spatter and gas bursts" to erupt in the Leilani Estates subdivision of the USA state's Big Island, prompting the mandatory evacuation of some 1,700 people.

The epicenter, with a depth of 5 km, was initially determined to be at 19.3702 degrees north latitude and 155.0321 degrees west longitude, Xinhua reported. People reported almost constant ground shaking in the area due to the frequency of temblors in the past several days. Nearby community centres have opened for shelter.

The temblor was the largest in Hawaii since 1975, and did generate small tsunami waves around the Big Island, triggering sea fluctuations that ranged from 8 inches in Hilo to 16 inches at Kapoho, Hawaii County Civil Defense said.

A lava eruption from Kilauea volcano coming out of a fissure in the ground has not occurred in a residential area since 1960. Scientists say a new eruption in the region is possible.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, and the extent of the damage to the homes was not immediately known, Doug McCormick of Hawaii County's health and safety departments told NBC News.

At 10:30 HST, ground shaking from a preliminary magnitude-5.0 natural disaster south of Pu'u 'Ō'ō caused rockfalls and possibly additional collapse into the Pu'u 'Ō'ō crater on Kīlauea Volcano's East Rift Zone. Residents said the eruptions sounded like "hissing" and a "freight train". "That's kind of the same as living on top of the biggest volcano in the world; it's active and you hope nobody gets hurt and someone might".

Kilauea is the most active volcano on the island of Hawaii. In the decades since, the lava flow has buried dozens of square miles of land and destroyed many homes. Elsewhere, lava spurted into the sky from cracks in the road.

Due to the volcanic activity there is a no-fly zone over Kilauea volcano.

Governor Ige activated the state's National Guard troops, and told residents to pay heed to official warnings.

Besides the erupting volcano and bubbling lava, earthquakes are shaking the ground residents are walking on. That eruption entered what was its most destructive moment by March 1990, according to the USGS.

Exposure to sulfur dioxide can be life threatening and high levels of the toxic gas have been detected.

The US Geological Survey said no steam or heat were seen escaping from the cracks, and they were small - about several inches across. Although the fissure stopped erupting, officials said there could still be more lava outbreaks.

In addition to collecting legal documents and medication, Stenback said, she quickly grabbed sentimental pieces from her jewelry box and stuffed the items into the pockets of her shorts because she didn't have time to properly pack her suitcase.

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