A day after the most active volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii erupted, two major earthquakes rattled the island and fountains of lava gushed out of the ground in a subdivision, forcing Hawaii’s Fire Department to issue fresh evacuation orders, warning of threats of fires and high levels of sulfur dioxide gas.
“Elderly, young and people with respiratory issues need to comply with the mandatory evacuation order and leave the area,” a statement from the mayor’s office said. Governor David Ige said residents were being housed in community centers until the danger from Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has passed.
The island shook at regular intervals, but especially so around midday Friday. A 5.6 magnitude quake hit south of the volcano around 11:30 a.m. local time, followed about an hour later by a 6.9 magnitude quake, south-east of the volcano. This was the most powerful earthquake to hit the US state since 1975.
Molten lava could be seen bubbling up through cracks on streets in the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens neighborhood where residents began to evacuate on Thursday. The area is home to about 1,700 people and 770 structures.
The broader district potentially impacted by the threat is home to some 10,000 people. For now, residents don’t know when it might be safe for them to return to home. “This stuff could go on for a couple days, weeks or months,” Maija Stenback, a resident of Leilani Estates said. “Just the thought of everything now being gone – it’s just not real yet. Maybe the next time we go there the house might be under 30 feet of lava.”
No injuries have been reported but several homes were said to have been destroyed or badly damaged on Friday. Lava continues to flow today, and a major erruption is feared by many on the island.