1700 ordered to evacuate after Hawaii volcano erupts

Blanche Robertson
May 5, 2018

More than 1,700 people were evacuated from Big Island neighborhoods after the Kilauea volcano erupted Thursday.

While the PTWC did not receive reports about what was felt along the island chain, McCreery says a magnitude 6.9 is big enough to be felt on other islands.

"I'm just hoping that it doesn't hurt anybody's home or hurt anyone, wherever Pele decides to pop out", Bailee Yamada of the Puna region told KHNL, invoking the name of the Hawaiian goddess who legend says lives on Kilauea's summit.

For now, Kim Larson and numerous people in the Leilani Estates and Puna area of the big Hawaiian Island can only hope and pray their property will be spared.

Hawaii County officials said steam and lava poured out of a crack in the community of Leilani Estates, near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island.

"We knew we were building on an active volcano", she said, but added that she thought the danger from lava was a remote possibility.

"This style of volcanic eruption is relatively common for Hawaii", said Dr. Shannon Kobs-Nawotniak, an ISU associate professor of geoscience.

The HTA notes that the closest resort areas, in Kona and the Kohala Coast on the island of Hawaiʻi's west side, are more than 100 miles away from where the lava flow is occurring and "shielded by the massive mountains of Maunakea and Maunaloa".

"We have to work with them as to how we are going to minimize (the inconveniences) as best as possible", he said.

Stephen Clapper was one of the evacuees.

"We had to evacuate. She's 88 years old", he told CNN affiliate KHON. He said he told his mother on Friday to pack a bag, just in case. "One and done, we don't need to go through this again".

Most of the quakes have had a reported 2.0 magnitude or less.

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About 14,000 customers of Hawaii Electric Light lost power immediately after the quake.

Rhea Lee-Moku, a spokeswoman for the company, said: "It's kind of like being on some kind of carnival ride if you will".

The latest quake, at about 12:33 p.m. local time, registered a preliminary magnitude of 6.9, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

"But I could hardly breathe yesterday", she said.

Destructive molten flows weren't the only concern.

It said there were deadly levels of unsafe sulphur dioxide gas in the air and emergency crews would not be able to help anyone affected.

Civil defense officials warned residents near Kilauea that "extremely high levels of unsafe sulfur dioxide gas", which can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs, had been detected in the air.

Breathing large amounts of sulfur dioxide can result in burning of the nose and throat, and breathing difficulties. Roads were closed for weeks in the area.

Ige has activated Hawaii's National Guard, and Hawaii senator Brian Schatz said on Twitter that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is mobilizing resources and is monitoring "for forest fires, power outages, and water supply disruption".

The US state's County Civil Defence Agency declared that the tremors were not big enough to trigger a tsunami.

Authorities have evacuated 1,500 people from communities near the Kilauea volcano.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has also closed off access to about 15,688 acres, which run from the Puu Oo vent to the ocean.

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