Hawaiian Authorities Order Mandatory Evacuation
Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano eruption spattered lava high in the air. The lava and sulfuric gas caused mass evacuation of more than 1,700 residents in a small community on Hawaii’s Big Island.
The affected residents of Leilani Estates, a subdivision of about 1,700 people near the Big Island’s eastern edge fled their homes and found refuge in a community center.
The mandatory evacuations were ordered by authorities after hundreds of earthquakes, most around 2.0 magnitude, shook the eastern side of the Big Island.
Kilauea volcano, one of five on the island, erupted late Thursday afternoon. The volcano is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. In fact, the active volcano has been erupting nearly continuously for more than three decades.
Earthquakes After Eruption
Aside from the spatters of deadly 30m lava high in the air, a flurry of earthquakes rattled the Leilani Estates before and after the eruption.
According to the US Geological Survey, there have been 119 earthquakes on the Big Island since Thursday afternoon.
In addition, a number of strong earthquakes hit Hawaii’s Big Island, a day after the eruption of the Kilauea volcano.
One latest quake, a 6.9 magnitude south-east of the volcano, hit the island about 12:15pm on Friday (local time). It was the most powerful to hit the US state since 1975.
The powerful tremor that jolted the small community caused a temporary blackout.
Threats of Sulfur Dioxide
Elevated levels of sulfur dioxide gas in the air also threatened residents in Leilani Estates and evacuation shelters. This was caused by continuing volcanic eruption.
The new volcanic activity in Mt Kilauea’s lower east rift zone amounted to “vigorous lava spattering,” the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. They added that additional outbreaks in the area were likely.
Exposure to high levels of sulfur dioxide could be life-threatening and can cause breathing difficulties. Breathing large amounts of sulfur dioxide could result in burning of the nose and throat and breathing difficulties.