Mount Kilauea in HawaiiImage copyright AFP

The Mount Kilauea volcano has erupted near a residential area on the largest island of Hawaii,

prompting a local state of emergency and mandatory evacuation for local residents.

One witness said lava had burst across a road like a curtain of fire. He said he could smell sulphur and burning trees.

The American Red Cross has opened an evacuation shelter.

The eruption follows a series of strong earthquakes over recent days.

A volcanic crater vent – known as Puu Oo – collapsed earlier this week, sending lava down the mountain’s slopes towards populated areas.

Hawaii’s Governor says he has activated the Hawaii National Guard.

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