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Soldier survives 70-foot fall into active Hawaiia's Kilauea volcano

A 32-year-old soldier attempting to get a better view inside of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano fell in Wednesday night, authorities said. He was seriously injured, but survived after falling 70 feet into the volcano's crater. 

According to parks spokesman Ben Hayes, the man climbed over the permanent metal railing at the Steaming Bluff overlook to look into the crater when the ground collapsed beneath him. 

The soldier — whose name has not been released — is from Schofield Barracks on Oahu, but was taking part in training exercises on Hawaii's Big Island when the accident occurred. 

Hayes said that another visitor witnessed the fall around 6:30 p.m. and alerted authorities. The man wasn't pulled out from the caldera until around 9:40 p.m. Instead of falling 300 feet, he landed on a narrow ledge about 70 feet down. 

Rescuers from the park and county were able to rappel down to the ledge, secure the man onto a stretcher and bring him back up, where he was airlifted to the Hilo Medical Center. 

"Visitors should never cross safety barriers, especially around dangerous and destabilized cliff edges," Chief Ranger John Broward said in a statement. Crossing safety barriers and entering closed areas can result in serious injuries and death."

The man was critically injured, but was upgraded to stable condition Thursday. "He obviously is doing remarkably well for his fall," Matthias Kusch, Hawaii County Fire Department battalion chief, said. "Only time will tell what injuries he has." 

Kilauea is not currently erupting, but it is an active volcano that destroyed more than 700 homes on the Big Island when it erupted one year ago, impacting some 3,000 people. 

The last fall fatality in the park occurred on October 29, 2017. 

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