Volcano erupts in Iceland, forcing another evacuation for fishing town

Volcano erupts in Iceland, forcing another evacuation for fishing town

World·Video

A volcano erupted in southwest Iceland on Sunday, posing an immediate threat to the nearby town of Grindavik, which had been evacuated for a second time over fears of an eruption.

Lava flowing toward Grindavik for 2nd time in less than a month

Thomson Reuters

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Volcano eruption again threatens Icelandic fishing town

A volcanic eruption began in southwestern Iceland on Sunday, with a live camera showing fountains of lava flowing over the landscape. The town of Grindavik, which was previously evacuated in November, was evacuated again on Saturday over fears that an eruption was imminent, authorities said.

A volcano erupted in southwest Iceland on Sunday, posing an immediate threat to a nearby fishing town that had been evacuated over fears of an eruption, authorities said.

Live streams from the site showed fountains of molten rock spewing from fissures in the ground, the bright orange lava flow glowing against the dark sky.

The eruption began north of the town of Grindavik, which on Saturday was evacuated for a second time over fears that an eruption was imminent amid a swarm of seismic activity, authorities said.

Lava began snaking toward the community around 8 a.m. local time, following a series of small earthquakes, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said. Hours later, a second fissure opened near the edge of town and lava crept toward the homes. The lava set at least one home on fire.

A volcano spews lava at night

A volcano spews lava and smoke on Sunday as it erupts on the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland. (Iceland Civil Protection/Reuters)

Iceland in recent weeks sought to build barriers of earth and rock to prevent lava from reaching Grindavik, but the latest eruption appeared to have penetrated the defences.

“According to the first images from the Coast Guard’s surveillance flight, a crack has opened on both sides of the defences that have begun to be built north of Grindavi­k,” the Icelandic Meteorological Office said in a statement.

Aerial shot of a volcano spewing lava near a town on the water

Lava flows close to a fishing town in southwest Iceland on Sunday. (Iceland Civil Protection/Reuters)

“Lava is now flowing toward Grindavi­k. Based on measurements from the Coast Guard’s helicopter, the perimeter is now about 450 metres from the northernmost houses in the town,” it added.

“We just watch it on the cameras and there’s really nothing else we can do,” resident Reynir Berg Jónsson told Iceland’s RUV television.

Volcanic lava consumes a building.

Lava from an erupting volcano in Iceland consumes a building near the town of Grindavik on Sunday. (Live from Iceland webcam/the Associated Press)

Grindavik is a town of 3,800 people located about 50 kilometres southwest of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital. The community was previously evacuated in November following a series of earthquakes that opened large cracks in the earth between the town and Sylingarfell, a small mountain to the north. The nearby Blue Lagoon geothermal spa — one of Iceland’s biggest tourist attractions — also closed temporarily. 

The volcano eventually erupted on Dec. 18, and residents were allowed to return to their homes on Dec. 22. 

More than 100 Grindavik residents had returned in recent weeks before Saturday’s renewed evacuation order, according to local authorities.

A volanco erupts at night

This image obtained from social media shows the volcano spewing smoke as it erupts near Grindavik, Iceland, on Sunday. (Gisli Olafsson/Reuters)

Iceland’s civil protection agency on Sunday said it had raised its alert level to “emergency,” the highest on a three-level scale, signalling an event had begun that could cause harm to people, communities, property or the environment on the Reykjanes peninsula.

Lying between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, two of the largest on the planet, Iceland is a seismic and volcanic hot spot as the two plates move in opposite directions.

An emergency worker stands on an empty road, facing an SUV and construction vehicles in the background

Emergency personnel use diggers on Sunday to fill in the last hole in a protective wall that was built to prevent flowing lava from reaching the southwestern Icelandic town of Grindavik. (Halldor Kolbeins/AFP/Getty Images)

With files from The Associated Press

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