Magnitude-5.5 quake shakes summit of Kilauea

Hawaii volcano map of affected area USGS

Three people were airlifted to safety on Sunday morning as lava from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano threatened an isolated area where they had become trapped, the National Guard said.

Kilauea is the youngest and most active Hawaiian shield volcano, located on the southern part of the Island of Hawai'i, known as Big Island. Inland, where molten rock is burning through the jungle, methane explosions are hurling boulders while toxic gas is reaching some of the highest levels seen in recent times.

A moderate natural disaster struck the summit of Kilauea Volcano this morning but does not pose a tsunami threat.

More homes have been destroyed, earthquakes are continuing and lava is now entering the ocean in Kapoho Bay.

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The site marked the latest challenge facing authorities during what geologists call an unprecedented, simultaneous eruption at Kilauea's summit and from giant fissures 25 miles (40 km) down its eastern side.

"We understand and commiserate with our community and visitors about the prolonged closure, but we can not provide safe access to the Kīlauea section of the park as long as these very unpredictable dangers threaten the safety of park staff and visitors", said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando.

A map shared by the US Geological Survey on Twitter Saturday afternoon showed the lava flow encroaching on the community of Kapoho and MacKenzie State Park.

Hundreds of homes on Hawaii's Big Island have been destroyed from lava oozing from the Kilauea volcano after an early morning explosion on Tuesday, according to officials. Kahele said the devastation in the area was unprecedented.

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"Persons remaining in the mandatory evacuation area ... do so at their own risk with the knowledge that emergency responders may not respond, ' Mayor Harry Kim has warned".

Laze is formed when hot lava hits the ocean, reacts with sea water and sends hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles in the air.

Almost a dozen people were left stranded in an area cut off by lava on Sunday.

"USGS was on a routine overflight and saw people on the road in an area cut off by the lava". Police on Monday said a 62-year-old man sped through a checkpoint near an intersection where lava was approaching.

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The suspect was later charged with Refusing to Evacuate, Obstructing Government Operations, Resisting Order to Stop Motor Vehicle, Reckless Driving, and two counts of Reckless Endangering in the 2nd degree.

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