Nearly 500 earthquakes, including one of magnitude 6.9 on the Richter Scale, shook parts of Hawaii since Friday, a day after the Kilauea volcano erupted, the United States Geological Survey said. Scientists have predicted more eruptions and earthquakes for months to come, Reuters reported.
The 6.9-magnitude earthquake on Friday afternoon (early Saturday Indian time) forced thousands of people on Big Island to flee their homes. The earthquake triggered the collapse of a coastal cliff and led to fresh lava eruptions, AFP reported.
No one has been injured but several homes were destroyed in the biggest earthquake on the Pacific island since 1975. Several new lava fissures have opened in the Leilani Estates, about 19 km from the volcano, the US Geological Survey said. The “eruptive activity is increasing and is expected to continue” for weeks or months, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
Outbreaks of lava from the eruptions can reach temperatures of 1,150 degrees Celsius, the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said. The Hawaii Fire Department reported “extremely dangerous air quality conditions due to high levels of sulphur dioxide gas”.
After the eruption on Thursday, thousands of Hawaiians were asked to evacuate their homes as Kilauea spewed lava in residential areas and led several roads to crack under its strain. The series of earthquakes began around 11 am on Friday local time.
Governor David Ige had earlier activated the National Guard troops.