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IPFS News Link • Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii is struck by 4.0 magnitude earthquake as Mauna Loa volcano continues to erupt...

• By MELISSA KOENIG and JACK NEWMAN and CHRIS JEWERS

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake shook the Big Island of Hawaii early Tuesday morning as the world's largest active volcano continued to erupt in the area — though officials say they've avoided the worst case scenario.

The earthquake struck just six miles east of Pahala on the Big Island, 20 miles below sea level, according to the US Geological Survey. Officials warn aftershocks may continue over the next few days as Mauna Loa continues to spew lava hundreds of feet into the air.

Happily, that molten rock isn't headed for the path of any settlements, meaning a feared natural disaster looks likely to be avoided.

And Hawaiian tourism officials now say they actually expect tourism to hit new heights because of Mauna Loa, with tourists flocking to witness the spectacular eruption.  

'I tell my guests, these are moments where you don't want to pass up,' Volcano Village Lodge owner Pua Norris told KLTV. 'You don't want to miss it.

'Of course, safety first,' he said. 'But look at how amazing it is.'

Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce Executive Officer Miles Yoshioka said the eruption could be viewed throughout the Big Island as glowing lava and smoky ash are still spewing 200ft into the air from Mauna Loa after it erupted for the first time in 38 years.

Officials now say they have avoided a worst-case scenario, as lava is flowing away from populated areas and has stalled about 11 miles from Saddle Road, which cuts through the middle of the Big Island.

Instead of flowing quickly to the town of South Kona, home to more than 22,000 people, the lava has spilled into an unpopulated northeast flank through three fissures, each between one and two miles long.

Mayor Mitch Roth told the Honolulu Star Advertiser that is 'the best possible direction,' even as it approaches the coastal town of Hilo, where over 45,000 people reside. 

Experts say the path's topography, along with the history of previous Mauna Loa eruptions, put the city on the island's east side relatively far from danger.


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