Terrifying moment fast-moving rivers of lava from Kilauea volcano engulf family's home as the National Guard begins airlifting stranded Hawaiians
- Fresh lava is spewing from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano and some traveled 1,000 feet in less than an hour
- Aerial images taken on Saturday show homes being consumed by massive streams of molten lava
- Another four homes were lost to the volcano, and the National Guard has begun to airlift people out to safety
- Four people were airlifted on Friday and another was taken out of a dangerous area on Saturday
- More evacuations may be necessary as new lava threatens a coastal road - a key exit route for about 2,000
Startling aerial images show the devastation being caused by the latest eruption of lava at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano.
One picture, taken on Saturday, shows lava rushing towards a home in Pahoa after consuming another moments before.
Kilauea had begun to spew lava up to 200 feet in the air and fire out lava bombs the size of refrigerators on Friday, as scientists discovered fresh lava had begun to boil over and make its way out.
Fresh lava moves faster and spreads further than old lava. Previously the magma spurting from Kilauea had been stored in the volcano from a previous eruption in 1955.
Four more homes were consumed by the magma on Saturday morning after lava spread 1,000 feet in less than an hour, the Hawaii County Civil Defense Center said.
Other streams of lava were travelling at speeds of up to 900 feet an hour.
The volcano has been erupting for more than two weeks now, and has coated more than 325 hectares of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens in lava.
More than 2,000 people have been evacuated from residential areas on Big Island and National Guard helicopters have been sent out to airlift at least four residents from Hawaii's lower Puna area.
As of Friday, Hawaii County officials had distributed about 2,000 N95 gas masks to help protect locals from high levels of sulphur dioxide and ash in the air.
Three people were initially trapped on Saturday, but eventually got out of a hazardous area, and one was evacuated by air, said Janet Snyder, spokeswoman for Hawaii County.
'They shouldn't be in that area,' said County Managing Director Wil Okabe. He wants people to heed evacuation warnings.
Edwin Montoya, who lives with his daughter on her farm near the site where lava crossed the road and cut off access on Saturday, said the fissure opened and grew quickly.
'It was just a little crack in the ground, with a little lava coming out,' he said. 'Now it's a big crater that opened up where the small little crack in the ground was.'
A daily report from the United States Geographical Survey suggests the volcanic activity has become markedly worse in the past two days.
The USGS says the rate of lava eruption has increased, with fountaining at fissure 17 and fissures 16 and 20 'forming a continuous line of spatter and fountaining'.
As of Saturday morning, wide flow lava from the consolidated fissure was moving at up to 300 yards an hour, with a separate stream of lava moving in another direction.
The USGS says new lava flows are likely given the increasing rate of activity seen at the rift zone.
The Big Island volcano released a small explosion at its summit just before midnight Friday, sending an ash cloud 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) into the sky. The USGS’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said eruptions that create even minor amounts of ashfall could occur at any time.
The new lava, which is flowing east underground from the sinking lava lake at Kilauea’s summit, is expected to create bigger flows that travel further, threatening homes and a coastal road that is a key exit route for about 2,000 residents.
Scientists are so far unable to predict when the volcano will quiet, but a similar event in 1955 lasted 88 days.
'We have no way of knowing whether this is really the beginning or toward the end of this eruption,' Tom Shea, a volcanologist at the University of Hawaii told Associated Press on Friday.
'We're kind of all right now in this world of uncertainty.'