Earthquakes shake Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano during unrest, cause minor damage

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A magnitude 5.0 earthquake hit the largest active volcano on the planet on Friday. 

The U.S. Geological Survey said two moderate quakes occurred beneath the southern end of the island of Hawaii at 9:07 a.m. local time. 

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake was slightly offshore and south of Pāhala and the 5.0 struck 24 seconds later beneath Highway 11. 

The seismic events were followed by a string of aftershocks. 

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While most were less than magnitude 3.0, larger ones reached up to magnitude 4.0.

The USGS said aftershocks could continue for several days to weeks and might be large enough to be felt.   

A nearly deserted beach at the edge on an old Mauna Loa lava flow is viewed on Dec. 16, 2016, in this aerial photo taken along the Kona Kohala Coast, Hawaii. 

A nearly deserted beach at the edge on an old Mauna Loa lava flow is viewed on Dec. 16, 2016, in this aerial photo taken along the Kona Kohala Coast, Hawaii. 
(George Rose/Getty Images)

The two larger earthquakes were reported by hundreds of people from the island and felt across the entire state. 

It said that shaking may have been strong enough to do minor local damage, especially to older buildings. 

“The two earthquakes occurred within 24 seconds of each other creating shaking of longer duration and possibly greater intensity than either of the earthquakes would have created on their own,” the USGS said.

Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth said there no immediate reports of major damage or injuries, but that there was some minor damage in Pāhala. 

Backcountry on Mauna Loa summit is closed until further notice as a precautionary measure.

Backcountry on Mauna Loa summit is closed until further notice as a precautionary measure.
(NPS Photo/A.Lavalle)

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Mizuno Superette, the only grocery store in rural Pāhala, closed for about an hour and a half after the shaking left broken jars on the floor and knocked out electricity.

“The ground was just shaking,” cashier Laurie Tackett told The Associated Press. “It was a little scary.”

The sequence of earthquakes appear to be related to readjustments along the southeast flank of Mauna Loa volcano.  

A deserted beach at the edge on an old Mauna Loa lava flow is viewed on Dec. 16, 2016, in this aerial photo taken along the Kona Kohala Coast, Hawaii.

A deserted beach at the edge on an old Mauna Loa lava flow is viewed on Dec. 16, 2016, in this aerial photo taken along the Kona Kohala Coast, Hawaii.
(George Rose/Getty Images)

There has been no immediate effect on previously reported unrest beneath the summit, which remains elevated at levels similar to the past week.

Although large earthquakes have preceded past eruptions of Mauna Loa, they have typically been larger than Friday’s earthquakes. 

It is not known if this sequence of earthquakes is directly related to the ongoing unrest.

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The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said it will continue to closely monitor Mauna Loa for any changes.  

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami threat to Hawaii.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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