Residents on Hawaii's Big Island flee threat of quakes, lava and toxic gas

Residents on Hawaii's Big Island faced the threats of more earthquakes, lava and dangerous gas Saturday after the Kil...

Posted: May 6, 2018 2:38 PM
Updated: May 6, 2018 2:38 PM

Residents on Hawaii's Big Island faced the threats of more earthquakes, lava and dangerous gas Saturday after the Kilauea volcano erupted, spewing high levels of sulfur dioxide and molten rocks into neighborhoods.

A magnitude 6.9 quake struck the area Friday, jolting homes already threatened by volcanic eruption. The earthquake, one of dozens to hit the area in 24 hours, was the most powerful on the island since 1975, the US Geological Survey said.

The volcano, which erupted Thursday, already had driven hundreds of people from their homes.

The jolts and tremors have been consistent, said Ikaika Marzo, who lives on the Big Island.

"There are still plumes going out. There's a couple cracks that's close by that still have steam coming out," Marzo told CNN affiliate KHON on Friday. "There's a lot of glow, a lot of fires."

The volcanic activity will continue, Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno said Friday. "It doesn't look like it is slowing down."

At least seven volcanic vents have opened in Leilani Estates, according to the Hawaii Civil Defense Agency. 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.

'Just basically heartbreak'

Timothy Trun was among a dozen who evacuated from his farm Thursday as he and others were about to sit down to a goodbye dinner for a friend.

"It's been a real shocker," he told CNN on Saturday. "We're about to enjoy eating dinner, and the cops show up and tell us you have to go, and everything changes in an instant. You have five minutes to pack your bags with what you think you're going to need and you're off."

Neil Valentine and his family also left their home Thursday night in Leilani Estates. In short order, he saw a video on social media showing lava splashing and bubbling a few feet from his home, he told CNN affiliate KITV.

"Just basically heartbreak," he said of the scene. "My wife and I have been married going on 26 years. It was pretty much our dream home that we've been looking for all this time. Just knowing that we're not going to have a house, my wife is still in tears."

Harry Kim, mayor of Hawaii County, said the government will support residents who want to go back to their homes to pick up some belongings.

Cracks in Kilauea volcano's rift zone -- an area of fissures miles away from the summit -- erupted Thursday and early Friday, spurting lava near the island's eastern edge.

'We had to evacuate'

Stephen Clapper was one of the evacuees. He asked his mother Friday to pack a bag, just in case.

"We had to evacuate. My mother was out of portable oxygen, so that's a first concern. She's 88 years old," he told KHON.

Lava set trees ablaze and threatened homes as gas spewed out of cracks in the ground. Clapper went back to the house, got his mother and the dogs, swept up some of his clothes in one arm and took off for a shelter.

Hundreds without power

About 14,000 customers of Hawaii Electric Light lost power immediately after Friday's 6.9 magnitude quake. Power has been restored to about half those customers, but sulfur gas levels in some areas are too high for employees to work, utility spokeswoman Rhea Lee-Moku said Friday evening.

"When you are exposed to that level of SO2 in the Leilani Estates area, you need more protection than we have available to us," she said.

Exposure to high levels of sulfur dioxide can be life-threatening, according to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Volcanic eruptions can release the gaseous compound, and Hawaiian fire department personnel have detected high levels of it in the evacuation area, the civil defense agency said.

Breathing large amounts of sulfur dioxide can result in burning of the nose and throat, and breathing difficulties. Senior citizens, the young and people with respiratory issues are especially vulnerable to the gas, the state's Emergency Management Agency said.

Gov. David Ige said he's activated the Hawaii National Guard to help with evacuations and security.

Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanoes. It's in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which closed Friday and evacuated all visitors and nonemergency staff.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307332

Reported Deaths: 7095
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20757248
Hinds19869408
Harrison17475302
Rankin13307275
Jackson13095243
Madison9886210
Lee9854169
Jones8289160
Forrest7522146
Lauderdale7185237
Lowndes6261144
Lamar610284
Lafayette6026117
Washington5279132
Bolivar4769129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4440103
Pearl River4418139
Warren4277118
Marshall4267100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4056132
Union403575
Neshoba3984176
Lincoln3869107
Hancock371985
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322681
Pike3177104
Scott310472
Yazoo304268
Alcorn297664
Itawamba296776
Copiah292965
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284668
Prentiss275659
Marion265679
Wayne261341
Leake260973
Grenada254882
Covington254380
Adams245882
Newton244859
George237647
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213273
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182354
Stone179131
Clarke176676
Tallahatchie175240
Calhoun163130
Yalobusha158636
Smith158534
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126223
Noxubee125833
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite119941
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105332
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95126
Humphreys94332
Franklin81723
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518588

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753351487
Mobile37698798
Madison33829494
Tuscaloosa25245443
Montgomery23942565
Shelby23094238
Baldwin20617300
Lee15510165
Calhoun14277311
Morgan14137268
Etowah13660345
Marshall11952219
Houston10379278
Elmore9988200
Limestone9806147
Cullman9467188
St. Clair9422234
Lauderdale9208227
DeKalb8745181
Talladega8042171
Walker7087275
Jackson6753110
Autauga6715103
Blount6480135
Colbert6200130
Coffee5397112
Dale4766110
Russell428238
Franklin419882
Chilton4080109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3892146
Escambia387574
Dallas3526149
Chambers3499122
Clarke346360
Marion3065100
Pike305475
Lawrence295295
Winston272272
Bibb256258
Marengo248561
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224755
Hale218675
Butler212266
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176741
Monroe171240
Washington163838
Macon154348
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99228
Greene90734
Choctaw58624
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