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Hawaii is known for its stunning landscapes, but Friday morning, after hundreds of earthquakes in the area and one of 5.4 magnitude, the Kilauea Volcano on the East side of the Big Island erupted, spewing lava and toxic gases. After the initial eruption, the area experienced another quake of 6.9 magnitude.

In the immediate aftermath, 1,700 people were told to evacuate out of the nearby Leilani Estates community and the area was cordoned off by authorities. As of Sunday, 26 homes have been destroyed by lava and areas are still uninhabitable due to the high levels of sulfur dioxide in the air and continuing activity. The toxic gases cause burning in the nose and throat and cannot be protected against with commercial face masks. Emergency responders are staying clear of the area and wearing specialized masks when necessary.

Sunday, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., residents of Leilani Estates were permitted back into their homes briefly to retrieve pets and essential items they may have left behind in the evacuation like medications and important documentation. Civil Defence warned tourists in a statement that this was not an opportunity for sightseeing or offering physical assistance, saying the best way to help would be to stay out of the area.

Although the dangers of living so close to an active volcano are well-known among the Leilani residents, many of those displaced have left behind animals and farmland with no idea if they will be able to return to their livelihoods. New fissures and vents opened up Sunday night with lava shooting heights of 70 meters in the air.

The Kilauea Volcano is one of the world’s most active volcanos and has experienced continuous activity since 1983. Previously, active episodes have lasted anywhere from months to years, so meteorologists are uncertain how long the danger will last and have no definitive way of making a prediction.

The lava is slow-moving and though it looks at first glance to be hardened in some places, most of it is still slowly inching along. Other areas, authorities say, show “no sign of slowing down.”

Despite the devastation, news outlets are sharing some mesmerizing photos and videos of the lava. Nature may be deadly but it can be beautiful too.