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HVO: Record number of earthquakes recorded at Kilauea summit

  • Scott Wilson/Aloha Skies Aviation
    Lava from fissure 8 approaches Kapoho Point Saturday evening. Lava was reportedly about 500 yards from the ocean as of early this morning and moving through Kapoho Beach Lots.
  • USGS
  • Photo from 7 a.m. today from a helicopter overflight, hovering offshore and looking up the flow front off the coast of Kapoho. Nearly all of the front was active and advancing at an average rate of 250 feet per hour (76 m/hr).

CORRECTION 3:45 p.m. June 3:

Hawaii Civil Defense Director Talmadge Magno said it was a private helicopter rented by the U.S. Geological Survey that rescued two men and a woman in the Kapoho area this morning, not a county helicopter as previously reported.

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Magno also clarified a report by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources saying that individuals rescued are being cited for failure to evacuate a lava zone. He said the citations apply only to the area of Leilani Estates specified in an emergency evacuation order issued Thursday by Mayor Harry Kim.

UPDATE 1:05 p.m. June 3:

More than 500 earthquakes were reported at the summit of Kilauea volcano in a 24-hour period ending at 11 a.m. today, according to a Hawaiian Volcano Observatory seismologist.

Brian Shiro said the amount of earthquakes was “the highest rate ever measured there.” He said most were magnitude-2.7 and under, but one was measured at magnitude-3.5

Shiro said there have been “no major explosions or large plumes” of ash over the past day.

“The ash advisory has actually been lifted as of 11 a.m. this morning,” Shiro said.

Shiro said volcanologists think the conduit in Halema‘uma‘u crater is currently clogged with rocks and debris and there is potential for more powerful summit explosions.

Shiro said the eruption continued to be vigorous in the lower East Rift Zone with lava from fissure No. 8 continuing to flow toward Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland.

In a 12:30 p.m. update, Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Talmadge Magno said the wide flowfront was about 400 yards from the ocean.

There were reports of two men and a woman rescued by a county helicopter in the Kapoho area Sunday morning. Magno said in the latest update that “first responders are conducting search-and-rescue missions in affected, isolated areas today.”

The Department of Land and Natural Resources said in a separate written statement that those rescued are being cited for loitering in an emegency area and failure to evacuate.

DLNR also said eight more people were cited Saturday for loitering in a lava zone, bringing the total number of people cited to 18 during the current lava emergency, which began May 3.

PREVIOUSLY REPORTED:

First responders are actively conducting search and rescue missions this morning in areas isolated by lava from Kilauea volcano, Hawaii County Civil Defense said in a 9:30 a.m. message.

According to unconfirmed reports, the county’s Chopper 1 helping with the rescues.

That, despite a mandatory evacuation order issued Thursday by Mayor Harry Kim advising residents that if they stay in lava-affected areas, first responders may not come to rescue them, and that residents and others in the area might be held responsible for the cost of their rescue and could also be subject to arrest and charges for refusing to evacuate.

Civil Defense Director Talmadge Magno estimated Saturday that about a dozen people were holding out in the Kapoho area despite the mandatory evacuation order and lava cutting off evacuation routes from the area. He said it is possible some could evacuate on foot.

A flow front from fissure No. 8 was 500 yards from the ocean as of early this morning, moving through Kapoho Beach Lots. Highways 132 and 137, the “Four Corners” intersection and Government Beach Road have all been severed by lava.

There is no access to Kapoho, Vacationland and Highways 137 and 137. Government Beach Road, between Papaya Farms Road, is open only to Waa Waa and Papaya Farms Road residents only with official credentials. There is no curfew in those areas.

Volcanic gas levels remain high at the summit of Kilauea and in the fissure system along the Lower East Rift Zone, according to Civil Defense. Residents in communities downwind, including Pahala, Ocean View and Kona, are being advised to limit their exposure to volcanic gases and ash.

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Civil Defense is asking those who can confirm anyone is staying in the “active, isolated” areas to call them at 935-0031.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.