The massive Kilauea volcano continues to erupt sending lava into residential neighborhoods and toxic gas into the air. The Big Island, home to nearly 200,000, has also been rocked by earthquakes, including its most powerful earthquake in more than 40 years.
Police have surrounded the community where the eruption is occurring. Not just because of the lava, but also the deadly fumes. The spewing lava and toxic gases are showing no signs of slowing down.
A powerful 6.9 earthquake struck the Big Island on Friday, the largest in 43 years. The U.S. Geological Survey said Saturday 477 earthquakes were reported over a 24-hour period ending at noon on May 5.
Since then, several new eruptive cracks have opened up in the residential community of Leilani Estates. Each is hundreds of yards long, splashing lava into the air and flooding streets. Two houses have burned and thousands have evacuated.
“The smoke was really getting thick and you can really smell it in the air,” said Herschel Hood, who tried to convince his neighbor to leave with him. “He just refuses to go,” Hood said. “I’ve been to him twice today and he won’t leave.”
This part of the Big Island has seen some major lava flows before. In 1955, the lava flowed all the way to the ocean.
Kilauea is the youngest and most active volcano on the Big Island. Just a few miles from the current lava flow, at a community meeting, authorities tried to explain unpredictability of the volcanic cracks. “All of a sudden, one [volcanic crack] opened up, steam started coming out and the red lava that’s how fast it was happening,” said Talmadge Magno, administrator for Hawaii County Civil Defense. She said at least six active fissures have opened up so far. “You know we’re starting to see a pattern, a kind of a line,” Magno said, adding it could continue happening and they don’t know for how long. “You know, that’s the sad part about it. It could be happening for a long time or mysteriously it could just end,” Magno said.