- At least three houses were set alight after a volcano erupted in a small fishing town in Iceland.
- There have been no reports of deaths or injuries and airline flights were not affected by the eruption.
- Iceland’s President Gudni Johannesson described the disaster as a “black day” for his country.
A volcano has erupted in Iceland, sending molten lava flows to the outskirts of a small fishing town and engulfing homes.
At least three houses were set alight on Sunday as lava reached the edge of the port of Grindavik, according to live images broadcast on public television.
There were no reports of deaths or injuries and airline flights were not affected.
Iceland’s President Gudni Johannesson described the disaster as a “black day” for his country.
“No lives are in danger, although infrastructure may be under threat,” Johannesson said on the social media site X.
The eruption occurred just before 08:00 local time after local authorities evacuated the 4 000-strong population of the town following a series of small earthquakes, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said.
A crack that opened in the ground about 450 metres from Grindavik on Sunday morning had turned into a fissure measuring about 900 metres long as of 18:45, the Meteorological Office said.
A second fissure opened at about midday on the edge of town, measuring about 100 metres by evening, according to the office.
It is the second time the volcano located southwest of the capital Reykjavik has erupted in less than a month and the North Atlantic nation’s fifth volcanic eruption in less than three years.
Grindavik was evacuated in November after large cracks opened in the earth in advance of an eruption on 18 December.
VIDEO: A volcano erupts north of the Icelandic fishing village of Grindavik, just hours after local residents were evacuated, as seen in images filmed from an Icelandic Coastguard helicopter. This is Iceland’s fifth volcanic eruption in almost three years. The most recent… pic.twitter.com/WYyZuiW5v8
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) January 15, 2024
Before Sunday’s eruption, emergency workers had been building defensive walls around the town, which residents had returned to on December 22, but had not completed work on the barriers.
Local resident Sveinn Ari Gudjonsson described the disaster as “tragic” for the close-knit community, which he likened to a family.
“It’s unreal, it’s like watching a film,” Gudjonsson, 55, told the AFP news agency.
Iceland, which is home to about 37 000 people and located some 1 300km northwest of the United Kingdom, is home to more than 30 active volcanoes, making the north European island a prime destination for volcano tourism.