On May 3rd, volcano “Kileaua” erupted on a small island in Hawaii. Kileaua has been erupting continuously since 1983 but recent eruptions have forced nearly 3,000 people to evacuate to avoid exposure to sulfur dioxide. Authorities warned local residents to take cover after the eruption shot ash 12,000 meters into the sky.
Residents say they “knew it was coming” it was just a “matter of time”. The US Geological Survey had warned locals that an eruption at Kileaua was becoming more likely due to the volcano’s lava lake levels lowering. As lava meets underground water, this increases the risk of explosions. “We may have additional larger, more powerful events,” USGS geologist Michelle Coombs told reporters after Thursday’s explosion.
Hawaii’s big island was also hit with a magnitude 6.9 earthquake, on May 4th. This has been recorded as the most powerful earthquake to hit the island since 1975. Locals are worried that the strong winds from the earthquake will carry the ash from the eruption to the town of Hilo, home to about 45,000 people.
President Donald Trump has declared this event as a “major disaster” in Hawaii. This declaration allows the US government to use federal funds to supplement state and local recovery efforts in areas damaged by the lava and earthquake.
Hawaii governor, David Ige, says, “I would like to also remind the rest of the world as well as the rest of the state, Hawaii Islands continue to be open for business. The eruption site and lava flows are in a very small portion of the island. The international airports in Hilo and Kona are still open.”