Earthquake, Kilauea Volcano Rattle Hawaii’s Big Island
Hawaii’s largest earthquake in more than 40 years shook the Big Island near the newly erupting Kilauea volcano on Friday while thousands of residents evacuated the area.
The magnitude-6.9 earthquake struck at about 12:30 p.m. local time and was in almost the same location as a deadly magnitude-7.1 quake in 1975, the U.S. Geological Survey said. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
The strong quake followed a magnitude-5.4 earthquake about an hour earlier in the day. The state has been hit with hundreds of earthquakes in recent days, along with lava flows threatening homes on the Big Island.
Thousands of residents in the Eastern Puna District of the island were under mandatory evacuation orders on Friday.
Local police, fire and county agencies along with Hawaii’s National Guard were assisting with evacuation efforts and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials were also on the scene, a spokeswoman for Gov. David Ige said Friday.
Hawaii’s Civil Defense said in an alert Friday that dangerous conditions in the evacuation areas had emerged given high levels of sulfur dioxide gas.
“If you refuse to evacuate, first responders may not be able to come to your aid because it is not safe,” Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said on Twitter.
Michael Stancliff, 48 years old, who runs the Hale Mohalu vacation guesthouse, situated just southeast of the mandatory evacuation areas, said the increased seismic activity had put him on edge, but he and some of his guests abandoned his 21-acre property Thursday night after smelling sulfur gas.
“This has been pretty much my third days with no sleep,” said Mr. Stancliff, who has been staying with friends. “I’m running on adrenaline.”
The Kilauea volcano first erupted Thursday on Hawaii’s Big Island, prompting local authorities to issue mandatory evacuations for more than 1,500 residents as an active lava flow threatened homes. The eruption began shortly before 5 p.m. local time after earthquakes shook the island, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Mr. Ige mobilized the state’s National Guard and declared a state of emergency, following a local state of emergency.
At least 100 people were in shelters Friday with many more evacuees believed to be staying with relatives and friends, according to the Associated Press.
The roughly 1,700 residents of the Leilani Estates subdivision, located on the east side of the island of Hawaii, were placed under mandatory evacuation as lava flowed onto the subdivision’s streets, threatening about 770 buildings, Mr. Ige said on Twitter.
“The danger is of such magnitude that it warrants pre-emptive and protective action in order to provide for the safety, health and welfare of the residents of Leilani Estates and surrounding areas,” Mr. Ige said.
Another subdivision, Lanipuna Gardens, was also placed under mandatory evacuation orders, according to Hawaii County.
Kilauea is one of the world’s most-active volcanoes.