It has been an eventful few days on Hawaii Big Island. A 5.0 magnitude earthquake was felt throughout the east side of the island. Shortly after that, large cracks were seen in the roadways of Leilani Estates in the Puna District of Hawaii Island. Prior to the sizeable quake, an upwards of 60 smaller earthquakes rocked the area overnight. Scientists reported similar seismic activity prior to the Kapoho lava flow of 1955.
In the afternoon of May 3rd, a fissure and lava fountain was observed in the lower streets of Leilani Estates, with lava fountaining up to 100ft into the air. Hawaii National Guard and Hawaii County Police began evacuating the immediate area as lava poured across roads. Helicopter crews were out in full force providing scientists, camera crews, and newscasters with a bird's eye view.
Image courtesy of Jeremiah Osuna
Lava continues to spew out of large cracks, rolling down the street with a fiery show. Concerned for the high levels of toxic gasses emitted and new outcroppings of lava appearing in the early morning hours, the entire community of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens are ordered to evacuate immediately.
Image courtesy of Demian Barrios
Hawaii Island residents and visitors are asked to stay away from the area as evacuations are underway and the threat of significant harm due to toxic volcanic gasses. Pohoiki Road is closed from the intersection at Highway 132 down to Highway 137 to allow evacuation efforts to proceed.
At this time Leilani and Lanipuna Gardens are the only affected areas. Seaview, Kalapana, Hilo, Hamakua, Mt.View, Volcano, and the Kona side are not affected by the eruption at this time. Schools in the area currently closed and emergency American Red Cross shelters are open. Residents of Leilani and Lanipuna Gardens can seek shelter at the following locations:
Kea’au Community Center: 16-186 Pili Mua St, Keaau, HI 96749
Pahoa Community Center: 15-3022 Kauhale Street, Pahoa, HI 96778
Stay up to date on the eruption in the lower Puna District with these helpful links:
Hawaii County Civil Defense
Hawaii News Now
Big Island Now
Mileka Lincoln- News Anchor on the scene