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As it happenedended1705351045

Iceland volcano live: Lava flows into Grindavik as country faces ‘daunting’ time after ‘worst-case scenario’

Thousands of residents evacuated after second volcanic eruption near Grindavik in less than a month

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar,Tara Cobham
Monday 15 January 2024 20:37 GMT
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Buildings in Iceland’s Grindavik go up in flames as volcano’s lava reaches town

Lava is flowing into Grindavik as Iceland’s President said the country is facing a “daunting” time after a fresh volcanic eruption.

An expert fears the “worst-case scenario” has become the reality in Iceland as lava has flowed into people’s homes for the first time, torching at least three.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office said the volcano in the southwest of the country erupted for the second time in less than a month on Sunday, suspecting the fissure had since forced itself under the town of Grindavik.

President Gudni Th Johannesson said in a televised address on Sunday that “a daunting period of upheaval has begun on the Reykjanes peninsula”, where a long-dormant volcanic system has awakened.

When asked if the worst-case scenario had happened, Benedikt Halldórsson, an expert in earthquake activity at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service: “Yes, I don’t think it’s possible to imagine anything worse than it erupting in a settlement and lava flowing onto houses.”

Geophysicist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson said on Monday morning that the eruption had “decreased considerably” overnight, but that it was impossible to say when it would end.

Nearly 4,000 residents were evacuated. No one has been killed in the eruptions, but a workman is missing after reportedly falling into a crack opened by the volcano.

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‘Black day' for Grindavik - Iceland PM

It has been a “black day” for the town of Grindavik, Iceland’s prime minister has said after lava from a volcanic eruption hit the small fishing town.

Katrín Jakobsdóttir also called for calm as the town was evacuated.

She said: “Today is a black day for Grindavík and today is a black day for all of Iceland, but the sun will rise again.

“Together we will deal with this shock and whatever may come. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

Matt Mathers14 January 2024 21:12
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Multipe houses set on fire in Grindavik

Multiple houses have been set on fire in Grindavik after lava flowed into the town.

The fishing town has been evacuated and officials are concerned about the fate of farm animals that were not able to be removed.

Víðir Reynisson, head of Civil Defence, has told Iceland media that “no one is going into Grindavík until we are absolutely sure that it will be OK”.

Matt Mathers14 January 2024 21:14
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‘Black day’ for Grindavik as lava hits fishing town

It has been a “black day” for the town of Grindavik, Iceland’s prime minister has said after lava from a volcanic eruption hit the small fishing town.

Katrín Jakobsdóttir also called for calm as the town was evacuated. She said: “Today is a black day for Grindavík and today is a black day for all of Iceland, but the sun will rise again.

“Together we will deal with this shock and whatever may come. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

Matt Mathers14 January 2024 21:30
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Mapped- The volcano’s fissure and seismic activity

A map showing the fissure opening marked with a red line.
A map showing the fissure opening marked with a red line. (The Icelandic Met Office)
(The Icelandic Met Office)
Matt Mathers14 January 2024 22:30
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ICYM: Volcano erupts again sparking new evacuation

A volcano has erupted in southwest Iceland , posing an immediate threat to a nearby fishing town that had been evacuated over fears of an outbreak.

Early-morning 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 outbreak was imminent amid a swarm of seismic activity, authorities said.

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 (IMO) said in a statement.

“Lava is now flowing towards Grindavik. Based on measurements from the Coast Guard’s helicopter, the perimeter is now about 450 metres (1,500 feet) from the northernmost houses in the town,” it added.

(X)
Matt Mathers14 January 2024 23:30
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ICYMI: Second eruption in less than a month

It is the second volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula in southwest Iceland in less than one month and the fifth outbreak since 2021.

Last month, an eruption started in the Svartsengi volcanic system on Dec. 18 following the complete evacuation of Grindavik’s 4,000 residents and the closing of the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, a popular tourist spot.

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

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

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.

(AFP via Getty Images)

Matt Mathers15 January 2024 01:00
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ICYMI: Where is the lava flowing?

Sadly for Grindavik residents, the lava is flowing quickly towards town.

“We’re basically just looking at the fact that there’s lava flowing on both sides of the defensive wall. There is a volcanic fissure that has opened up inside it. Lava is flowing a few hundred meters north of the town, this is 400 to 500 meters. Lava flows towards Grindavík,” Kristín Jónsdóttir from the Icelandic Meteorological Office told RUV.

According to the meteorologist the lava will take just hours to reach the town.

Buildings in Iceland's Grindavik go up in flames as volcano's lava reaches town
Buildings in Iceland's Grindavik go up in flames as volcano's lava reaches town (Reuters )
Matt Mathers15 January 2024 02:00
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ICYMI: Workers rescue their machinery from the lava flow

Workers scrambled to rescue their machinery which was being used to build defensive walls against lava flow into Grindavik, report RUV.

Víðir Reynisson, head of Civil Defence highlighted the importance of saving the machinery to the broadcaster, saying it was needed to build other defence structures around the country.

He insisted the protection of human lives was their biggest priority and the successful mission did not endanger workers.

Matt Mathers15 January 2024 03:00
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No flight interruptions due to volcano, says president

President Gudni Johannesson announced flights scheduled to fly in and out of Iceland won’t be affected due to the fresh volcanic eruption near the town of Grindavik.

“No lives are in danger, although infrastructure may be under threat,” he said on social media X, formerly known as Twitter.

“There’s no way to tell” how much destruction the fishing town might face, which would depend on the duration of the eruption, said Benedikt Ofeigsson, a geophysicist at the Meteorological Office.

The eruption began early on Sunday north of the town, which just hours before had been evacuated for the second time since November over fears that an outbreak was imminent amid a swarm of seismic activity.

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar15 January 2024 03:20
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Eruption in pictures

A man adjusts his photographic equipment near Keflavik
A man adjusts his photographic equipment near Keflavik (AFP via Getty Images)
Aerial view taken on January 14, 2024 shows flowing lava close to a road leading to the southwestern Icelandic town of Grindavik
Aerial view taken on January 14, 2024 shows flowing lava close to a road leading to the southwestern Icelandic town of Grindavik (AFP via Getty Images)
Lava dances around Iceland volcano as it erupts
Lava dances around Iceland volcano as it erupts (Reuters)
A view of the plume of gas lighted up by the lava from the erupting volcano seen from Suðurstrandavegur
A view of the plume of gas lighted up by the lava from the erupting volcano seen from Suðurstrandavegur
Matt Mathers15 January 2024 04:00

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