Iceland declares state of emergency over volcanic eruption threat

World

Iceland has declared a state of emergency after thousands of tremors raised fears of a volcanic eruption.

Authorities have ordered thousands living in the southwestern town of Grindavik to evacuate as a precaution and have closed the nearby Blue Lagoon tourist attraction.

The area around Mount Thorbjorn on the Reykjanes Peninsula has been shaken by hundreds of small earthquakes every day for more than two weeks due to a build-up of volcanic magma – molten rock – around three miles (5km) underground.

Land in the region has risen by 9cm (3.5in) since the end of October, according to the Icelandic Met Office (IMO).

Image:
Lava can be seen during an eruption of a volcano in Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula in July

Scientists are closely monitoring the situation for any indication the seismic activity is getting closer to the surface.

Iceland, which sits above a volcanic hotspot in the North Atlantic, averages an eruption every four to five years.

The most disruptive in recent times was the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which spewed huge clouds of ash into the atmosphere and led to widespread airspace closures over Europe.

Image:
Volcanic hot springs at the Blue Lagoon spa, pictured in March 2020, have now been closed to tourists

The Reykjanes Peninsula on Iceland’s southwestern coast includes a volcanic system that has erupted three times since 2021, after being dormant for 800 years.

The evacuation of Grindavik came after the IMO warned “significant changes have occurred in the seismic activity” and that magma could have extended under the town, which is located about 33 miles (53km) from the capital Reykjavik.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player


1:33

July: Volcano erupts in Iceland

Read more from Sky News:
Mother found dying from stab wound by her two children
British Jews are ‘living with dread’, says David Baddiel
Explosions in Kyiv as city ‘comes under air attack’

The IMO said: “At this stage, it is not possible to determine exactly whether and where magma might reach the surface.”

Iceland’s civil protection agency ordered residents to leave the area but stressed it was not an emergency evacuation. It said there was “plenty of time to prepare… and drive out of town calmly”.

“There is no immediate danger imminent, the evacuation is primarily preventive,” the agency added.

Articles You May Like

Silver defends tax apron: Helps all teams compete
Trump shooting ‘an extraordinary moment’ in already deeply anxious times
Fish takes celebrity lead in Tahoe; Barkley T-52
Colombia boss rues Copa security issue after loss
China is on track to reach its clean energy targets this month… six years ahead of schedule