Earthquakes strike Hawaii after volcano erupts, 1,700 to evacuate

Strongest earthquake since 1975 hits Hawaii after massive eruption of Kilauea volcano on the US state's Big Island.

    Several earthquakes have struck Hawaii on Saturday after a massive volcano eruption on the Big Island of the US state. 

    One of the quakes registered a magnitude of 6.9, the strongest to strike Hawaii since 1975.

    About 1,700 residents have been ordered to evacuate their homes after an eruption of the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island.

    Residents of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens were issued a mandatory evacuation order after the eruption on Thursday sent lava flowing up from a crack in a street. 

    At least two people have died since Thursday, according to reports. 

    "It sounded like if you were to put a bunch of rocks into a dryer and turn it on as high as you could. You could just smell sulphur and burning trees and underbrush and stuff," Jeremiah Osuna, a resident who captured drone footage of the scene, told Honolulu television station KHON.

    On Friday morning, the Hawaii Country Civil Defence Agency said the volcanic activity still continued and another vent had opened up overnight.

    The eruption was preceded by hundreds of small earthquakes in recent days. 

    Dangerous gas

    The Hawaii Fire Department reported "extremely high levels of dangerous sulphur dioxide gas" in the evacuation area, according to the Hawaii Country Civil Defence Agency.

    At least 100 people were staying in shelters on Thursday night.

    One of the world's most active volcanoes, Kilauea has been erupting nearly continuously since 1983.

    "It is quite usual for Kilauea to erupt, not at the summit, but through cracks on the volcano," Eleonora Rivalta of the German Research Centre for Geosciences told AFP news agency.

    "What is slightly unusual, but only for the last tens of years, is that the eruption is taking place quite distant along the East Rift Zone, so close to some settlements. But this is within the known behaviour of the volcano."

    In 1924, one person was killed when Kilauea spewed ash and rocks into the sky.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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