(Reuters) - Heavy rain caused a 500,000-gallon sewage spill in Honolulu that sent dirty water streaming into the city’s famed Waikiki Beach, and officials warned people to stay out of the water or risk infection.
Brown water flowed into the popular tourist spot after more than 4 inches of rain fell in Honolulu between Sunday night and Monday morning.
On Monday, Honolulu city officials told people at the white sand coast of Waikiki Beach to avoid entering the water, saying in a statement that more than 500,000 gallons of sewage water had overflowed from manholes and streamed into storm drains leading to the ocean.
“All I can do is apologize to the public,” Lori Kahikina, director of environmental services for the city and county of Honolulu, said at a news conference. “This is unheard of. It’s unprecedented.”
The Hawaii Department of Health issued a brown water advisory across the island of Oahu, which includes Honolulu, and collected water samples, Honolulu officials said.
Shayne Enright, spokeswoman for the Honolulu Emergency Services Department, told a news conference dirty water at Waikiki Beach posed a risk to anyone who entered it.
“We don’t know right now what is in the water, you could get a serious infection, get extremely sick or even worse,” she said.
A local television station showed video of a lifeguard using a loudspeaker to warn beachgoers to stay out of the ocean. But some people still swam and waded in the water, according to Hawaii News Now.
“That’s a lot of water there, I don’t think a little particle is going to hurt me,” Adam Rago, a visitor from California, told Hawaii News Now.
The heavy rains that caused the sewage spill were not directly linked to tropical depression Kilo which is hundreds of miles away from Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean, said National Weather Service meteorologist John Bravender.
Last week, officials expressed concern that Kilo could directly hit Hawaii, but in recent days it has tracked away from the state. [ID:nL1N11009B]
Heavy rains could resume on Tuesday and a flash flood warning is expected to last through the day in Honolulu, Bravender said.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Mohammad Zargham