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Thursday, December 1st

AP PHOTOS: Spectacular eruption of world's largest volcano

By GREGORY BULL and ANDREW SELSKY Associated Press

A man looks on as lava erupts from Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - The lava from the world's largest volcano is so hot and bright that the sky has turned orange. At night, throngs of people have been gathering to witness nature's spectacular light show in Hawaii.

Some spectators left an offering of flowers on the black lava that had poured from Mauna Loa in earlier eruptions. Pele, the Hawaiian volcano deity, is revered by many Hawaiians.

Mauna Loa, which last erupted 38 years ago, is one of five volcanoes that together make up the Big Island of Hawaii. A series of earthquakes in November signaled that it was becoming active again, and on Sunday it belched ash and debris into the sky.

Since then, lava has gushed from a fissure, rolled down the slopes in glowing rivers and threatened a key road that connects eastern and western Hawaii. The bright orange lava can be seen for miles. Local residents and visitors have flocked to the Saddle Road highway and to Volcanoes National Park to witness the spectacle.

The road cuts through fields of black lava from earlier eruptions, a reminder that the islands of Hawaii are a string of volcanoes sitting on the Ring of Fire, characterized by active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes.

Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano has begun erupting. This eruption map shows the current lava activity extent as of Nov. 30

Cars drive down Saddle Road as Mauna Loa erupts in the distance, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Lauren Kish, a hospice nurse from the nearby town of Waimea, brought her 7-month-old daughter Mayla to see the eruption at dawn Wednesday.

"She wanted to see Pele," Kish said. "She wanted to meet her."

In 2018, Kish saw nearby Kilauea volcano erupt. Both eruptions brought the same feeling of being awestruck by the force of nature.

"You feel like a movement of energy in the whole island and everyone is excited about it," she said.

Spectators have been taking selfies and group photos, using the dramatic backdrop provided by Mother Nature.

Officials were initially concerned that the lava would head toward the community of South Kona, but instead it migrated to a rift zone which scientists said doesn't threaten communities.

Ken Hon, scientist in charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said the lava has "slowed considerably" and is 3.3 miles (5.3 kilometers) south of the highway. At that rate, it would be at least a week before it reaches the highway.

"We don't really know which way the lava flow will ultimately go."

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Selsky reported from Salem, Oregon.

Spectators watch the lava flow down the mountain from the Mauna Loa eruption, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Abigail Dewar, of Alberta, Canada, holds a stuffed animal as she walks over hardened lava rock from a previous eruption as the Mauna Loa volcano erupts, behind, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Ingrid Yang, left, and Kelly Bruno, both of San Diego, take a photo in front of lava erupting from Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

An offering sits among blackened lava rock from a previous eruption near the Mauna Loa volcano as it erupts Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

People come to view the Mauna Loa volcano as it erupts Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Lava flows down the mountain from the Mauna Loa eruption, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

The glow of the Mauna Loa eruption is seen through a grove of palm trees, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Kona, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Kelly Ann Kobayashi raises her hands as she poses for a picture for Chad Saito, left, while standing on hardened lava rock from a previous eruption as the Mauna Loa volcano erupts, behind, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii. The two were visiting from Honolulu. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

An overflow of cars sit in a parking lot near the Mauna Loa volcano as it erupts Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Children run on blackened lava rock from a previous eruption near the Mauna Loa volcano as it erupts Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Jason, left, and Anakaren Pagan, of Memphis, take a picture near the Mauna Loa volcano as it erupts Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Janice Hazen of Ocean View, Hawaii, uses a binocular to view the Mauna Loa volcano as it erupts Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

A journalist, left, records lava from the Mauna Loa volcano as it erupts Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

People watch the glow from lava erupting from Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022 in Hilo, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)