Hawaii’s largest earthquake in more than 40 years shook the Big Island near the newly erupting Kilauea volcano on Friday while thousands of residents evacuated the area.
The magnitude-6.9 earthquake struck at about 12:30 p.m. local time and was in almost the same location as a deadly magnitude-7.1 quake in 1975, the U.S. Geological Survey said. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
The strong quake followed a magnitude-5.4 earthquake about an hour earlier in the day. The state has been hit with hundreds of earthquakes in recent days, along with lava flows threatening homes on the Big Island.
Thousands of residents in the Eastern Puna District of the island were under mandatory evacuation orders on Friday.
Local police, fire and county agencies along with Hawaii’s National Guard were assisting with evacuation efforts and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials were also on the scene, a spokeswoman for Gov. David Ige said Friday.
Hawaii’s Civil Defense said in an alert Friday that dangerous conditions in the evacuation areas had emerged given high levels of sulfur dioxide gas.
“If you refuse to evacuate, first responders may not be able to come to your aid because it is not safe,” Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said on Twitter.
Michael Stancliff, 48 years old, who runs the Hale Mohalu vacation guesthouse, situated just southeast of the mandatory evacuation areas, said the increased seismic activity had put him on edge, but he and some of his guests…