New Quakes Hit Hawaii after Kilauea Volcano Erupts, Hundreds Flee
PAHOA, Hawaii (Reuters) - GA series of fresh earthquakes on Friday, including a powerful magnitude 6.9, hit Hawaii’s Big Island, where the Kilauea volcano has been spewing fountains of lava into residential areas and forcing hundreds to evacuate.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said the strongest tremor at 12:32 p.m. (2332 GMT) measured 6.9, a magnitude capable of causing severe damage.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the quake, whose epicenter was on the south flank of the volcano, was not large enough to cause a tsunami although it generated sea level changes around the island of up 15.7 inches.
It caused buildings to shake at the Community Center in Pahoa town, one of two evacuation centers in the area hastily set up after lava started burbling up through fissures in the ground in neighborhoods nearby.
A new fissure opened up just before the latest tremor on Friday in one of those neighborhoods, Leilani Estates, about a dozen miles (19 km) from the volcano, the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said in a text message, making a total of four found so far.
Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes and one of five on the island, has been in constant eruption for 35 years. Lava flows from the volcano have covered 48 square miles (125 square km), according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Scientists say it is nearly impossible to predict how long an eruption will last.
Residents in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions, home to about 1,700 people, were ordered to evacuate in the early hours of Friday after public works officials reported steam and lava erupting from fissures in the road, the Civil Defense agency said.
No injuries or deaths were reported, but Hawaii Governor David Ige activated the Hawaii National Guard to provide emergency help.
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