Kīlauea volcano erupts on Hawaii’s Big Island

HAWAII — Kīlauea volcano’s path of destruction is unpredictable, and officials warn that more outbreaks are likely to occur along the rift zone.

“The prognosis is for this to continue. We see no slow down in activity,” says USGS scientist Tina Neil.

“This is a really different disaster, cause usually you can see the lava flowing on the surface,” says Coralie Chun Matayoshi of the American Red Cross of Hawaii. “But in this case, the lava is underneath, under the rift zone. And you just don’t know where it’s gonna pop up — and so far there are 12 fissures that have broken out in the Leilani Estates.”

Just shortly after the Red Cross briefed us on the number of homes destroyed, the numbers jumped from 9 to 26 homes, and 5 structures.

The top concern for officials is the toxic air. The fissures not only spew steam and lava, but also sulphur dioxide. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, this can be life-threatening in high levels.

“It’s getting bad right now, especially the fog. The fog is really bad. It’s making my eyes watery and my nose runny,” says Vicky Gacutan.

Maritess Gacula and her brother Mitch are in Keaau, about 25 miles from the volcano.

“We don’t know what will happen, or what will change in the weather patterns. So the main thing is to be informed.”

The Gaculas have always lived on the Big Island. Their parents have owned the Keaau Filipino Store since 1982. They tell us Kilauea has been in constant eruption since 1983.

“We know the dangers and stuff. They teach us from since grade schools. Things not to do. But when it happens, you don’t know how you’re going to react, you just gonna deal with it.”

The Gaculas say they were still surprised when they felt the quake this week.

“On Friday, we were jolted by 2 back to back earthquakes, one was 6.9 magnitude, which is strongest in 40 years, and we were fearing that it would set off more eruptions and possibly a tsunami which didn’t happen, but there’s been a lot of earthquakes since then.”

Two emergency shelters remain open for evacuees.

On Thursday, Gov. David Ige activated the Hawaii National Guard and issued an emergency disaster proclamation. FEMA is also mobilizing resources.

All public schools on the Big Island are open on Monday, but five charters schools are closed.

Air quality in east Hawaii, according to officials, has been tested.

There are about 41 thousand Filipinos who live on the Big Island, according to the 2010 census. About 1300 live in the upper Puna area, near the volcano.

Hawaii Mayor Harry Kim says no injuries have been reported so far. According to the Philippine Consul in Hawaii, there are no reports of Filipinos affected.

 

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