Hawaii's Kilauea volcano a continued threat

Officials said the number of homes destroyed by Hawaii's Kilauea volcano continues to climb, putting the Leilani Estates neighborhood on the Big Island, at the highest risk.

By Sunday, at least 26 homes had been destroyed as a result of the eruption, which was followed by a 6.9-magnitude earthquake on Friday -- the island's most powerful since 1975, according to the US Geological Survey.

As of Sunday morning, nine volcanic vents had erupted in evacuated neighborhoods on the island, County of Hawaii officials said.

Hawaii County civil defense officials said two new fissures opened overnight, bringing the total to nine that opened in the neighborhood since Thursday. U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall said that with the two new fissures, the total was 10, though one of the new ones had already stopped producing lava.

Scientists said Kilauea was likely to release more lava through additional vents, but they were unable to predict exactly where.

All residents of Leilani Estates, a community of about 1,700 people near the Big Island's eastern edge, and nearby Lanipuna Gardens have been ordered to evacuate.

The American Red Cross has opened two shelters at the Pahoa and Keaau Community Centers, where some evacuees have gathered while they await news about their homes.

Hundreds of small earthquakes continued to rumble through the area Saturday, one day after a magnitude-6.9 temblor hit -- the largest earthquake to hit Hawaii in more than 40 years. Magma moving through Kilauea set off the earthquakes, said geologists, who warned of aftershocks.

Authorities cautioned sulfuric gas pouring out of the vents also posed dangers, particularly to the elderly and people with respiratory problems. Hawaii County spokeswoman Kanani Aton said some residents may be allowed to return home briefly to pick up medicine or take care of pets if sulfur dioxide levels drop.

Kilauea has been continuously erupting since 1983 and is one of the world's most active volcanoes. In 2014, lava burned a house and smothered a cemetery as it approached Pahoa, the town closest to Leilani Estates. But this flow stalled just before it reached Pahoa's main road.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.