Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Eruption Displaces Hundreds
The Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island has erupted, displacing hundreds from their neighborhoods and putting their homes in danger. The eruption sent a massive spiral of ash wafting into the air and at one point, lava fountains were shooting 150 feet high. The lava continues to bubble from a 500-foot crack, flowing through a forest and down a residential street.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige issued a mandatory evacuation order for the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions, affecting some 1,500 people. The 500-foot fissure appeared in Leilani Estates. The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency stated in an alert, “Hawaii Fire Department reports extremely high levels of dangerous Sulfur Dioxide gas detected in the evacuation area.” Several roadways have cracked and a nearby school has been closed.
There have been no reports of injuries associated with the eruption. The evacuees have been provided shelter at two community centers near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island. U.S. Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been tasked with mobilizing resources, along with monitoring for forest fires, power outages and water supply issues. Ige activated the National Guard to help with evacuations and security.
Kilauea is one of the most active and well-monitored volcanoes in the world. The eruption comes after days of earthquakes that rattled the area. The series of earthquakes was triggered by a collapse inside the volcano, and pushing the lava into new underground chambers downslope toward the populated southeast coastline of the island.
Officials said there is no way to predict how long the eruption will continue or what shape it will take. In his emergency declaration, the governor noted the current flow was similar to a 1960 eruption in the Kapoho area that “caused significant damage.” The broader district potentially impacted by the threat is home to some 10,000 people.