In the southwest region of Iceland, a volcanic eruption has unfolded, with molten lava flowing into the small fishing town of Grindavik, setting houses ablaze.
This marks the second eruption in the area within weeks, prompting authorities to issue evacuation orders for the town’s residents.
A webcam operated by Iceland’s public broadcaster RUV captured the dramatic scene as lava streamed into Grindavík, dangerously close to other houses.
Despite protective measures like anti-lava walls, there were concerns about potential damage to the town’s infrastructure, as emphasized by Hjordis Gudmundsdottir, a spokesperson for Iceland’s Civil Protection Agency.
Residents of Grindavík, who were previously evacuated in November due to seismic activity, were ordered to evacuate once again by Monday night after volcanic fissures emerged on roads in the vicinity.
Approximately 60 households, constituting 10% of the town’s usual population, have been evacuated, with the spokesperson noting that many had not returned since the previous eruption in the preceding month.
Fortunately, there is no immediate threat to human life.
In response to the eruption, the alert level was raised, and the Icelandic Coast Guard deployed a helicopter to monitor the situation.
Prior to the eruption, an earthquake had been reported by Iceland’s meteorological office.
Addressing air travel concerns, Gudmundsdottir reassured that the nearby Keflavik airport was safe, as the eruption did not produce ash that could impact flights.
Grindavík, located 70 kilometers southwest of Reykjavík, is known for the Blue Lagoon, a popular tourist attraction featuring geothermal water.
The evacuation order, effective for an estimated three weeks, was issued following a hazard assessment by the Civil Protection Agency, which identified higher risks associated with volcanic fissures.
The agency mentioned that exceptions to the order could be made for official business or for residents to salvage valuables briefly.
This latest evacuation comes after the Icelandic Meteorological Office raised concerns about volcanic fissures, deeming them a higher risk.
The government agency emphasized that the amount of magma had reached a level similar to the December eruption but warned of a potential southward migration towards Grindavík.
Iceland, home to 32 active volcanoes, experiences frequent volcanic activity due to its location on a tectonic plate boundary along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
Although eruptions are common, the current series is not expected to cause the level of chaos witnessed in 2010 during the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, which led to widespread flight cancellations and disruptions due to a massive ash cloud.