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Hawaii opens evacuation shelters after dam breach on Maui island

REUTERS: Heavy rains breached a dam on the Hawaiian island of Maui, prompting authorities to open evacuation shelters after ordering everyone in its vicinity and along the nearby coast to leave.

The rains led to the cresting of the Kaupakalua dam in the island's northern region of Haiku, state emergency management officials said in a statement.

"Failure of the dam will produce life-threatening flooding as well as significant property damage in areas downstream," weather officials in Honolulu, the state capital, said in a statement.

Evacuation shelters were being opened at the Paia Community Center and Hana High School, Governor David Ige said.

"Maui county officials have been informed that Kaupakalua Dam has been breached," Ige said on Twitter late on Monday, announcing that evacuations had begun.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said that six homes were heavily damaged or destroyed after the dam near Haiku flooded the area.

The earthen dam, which was built in 1885, is 17.4m in height and 122m in length. It belongs to the East Maui Irrigation Company.

Parks in Maui county will stay closed because of the rain and flooding, the parks department said.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is responsible for inspecting some 135 registered dams statewide.

Last year, the state issued a "Notice of Deficiency" to the owners of Kaupakalua Dam, according to a report from KHON2 News, a local Fox affiliate. It was one of nine dams cited as being in poor or unsatisfactory physical condition.

In 2006, seven people died after the Ka Loko dam on the island of Kauai collapsed.

Source: Reuters


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