Sputtering lava, strong earthquakes and toxic gas jolted the southern part of the Big Island of Hawaii as magma shifted underneath a restless Kilauea volcano.
The trifecta of natural threats forced stressed out residents to evacuate and prompted the closure of parks and college campuses on Friday.
Multiple new vents, from which lava is spurting out of the ground, formed in the same residential neighborhood where molten rock first emerged Thursday. At midday, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck — the biggest of hundreds of quakes this week and the largest to strike the state in 43 years. Residents were also warned to watch out for dangerous levels of sulfuric gas.
Hawaiian Volcano Observatory spokeswoman Janet Babb said the earthquakes reflected the volcano adjusting to the shifting magma.
The lava lake at Kilauea's summit crater dropped significantly, suggesting the magma was moving eastward toward Puna, a mostly rural district of forests, papaya farms and lava fields left by past eruptions.
Officials ordered more than 1,700 people out of Big Island communities near the lava, warning of the dangers of spattering hot rock and high levels of sulfuric gas that could threaten the elderly and people with breathing problems. Two homes have burned.
Two new volcanic vents, from which lava is spurting, developed Friday, bringing the number formed to five.
State Sen. Russell Ruderman said he's experienced many earthquakes, but the magnitude-5.4 temblor that hit first "scared the heck out of me." Merchandise fell off the shelves in a natural food store he owns.
When the larger quake followed, he said he felt strong shaking in Hilo, the island's largest city that is roughly 45 minutes from the rural Puna area.
"We're all rattled right now," he said. "It's one thing after another. It's feeling kind of stressful out here."
The University of Hawaii at Hilo and Hawaii Community College both closed campuses to allow students and employees to "attend to personal business and priorities."
Authorities already had closed a long stretch of Highway 130, one of the main arteries through Puna, because of the threat of sulfuric gas.
The ordeal has been made worse by the release of dangerous levels of sulphur dioxide gas into the air, officials said.
In addition to needing supplies, residents are dealing with power outages in the wake of earthquakes tripping power lines, KHON-TV reported, citing information from Hawaii Electric Light Co.