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Iceland volcano - latest: Grindavík residents ordered to evacuate again after new Reykjanes eruption

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

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.

Key Points

  • Volcanic eruption releasing toxic gases

  • Iceland volcano finally erupts after weeks of anticipation

  • All routes to Grindavik shut for commuters

  • No disruption yet to flights in Iceland, says foreign minister

Responders leave Grindavik

Wednesday 20 December 2023 00:01 , Athena Stavrou

Emergency responders stationed in the evacuated town of Grindavik have been ordered to leave the town.

Icelandic broadcaster RUV reported that the decision was confirmed by police chief Úlfar Lúðvíksson and was based on an Icelandic Met Office risk assessment map.

They added that the situation will be reviewed tomorrow.

 (Barney Davis)
(Barney Davis)

Watch: Tourist watches on as lava shoots from Iceland volcano

Wednesday 20 December 2023 01:00 , Athena Stavrou

A tourist watched on, metres away from a volcanic eruption on Iceland‘s Reykjanes Peninsula on Monday.

“I’m very excited to be here in this place, in this time, just being able to see this natural phenomenon... It’s just something from a movie,” said Robert Donald Forrester III.

Is it safe to travel to Iceland after volcanic eruption?

Wednesday 20 December 2023 02:00 , Athena Stavrou

The earth is at its most restless in Iceland right now. A volcano is erupting on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwest of Reykjavik.

The eruption is around 10 miles southwest of the airport and northeast of the town of Grindavik – whose 4,000 inhabitants were evacuated as a precaution.

Yet flights are continuing to arrive and depart as normal. These are the key questions on consumer rights, answered by The Independent’s Travel Correspondent, Simon Calder:

Is it safe to travel to Iceland after volcanic eruption?

Grindavik locals ‘deflated’ by eruption

Wednesday 20 December 2023 03:00 , Athena Stavrou

Residents of Grindavik had hoped to return to their family-friendly port town in time for Christmas before the volcanic eruption last night blew their plans out of the water.

Andrea Ævarsdóttir told The Independent she has been living in Reykjavik like most of the people from Grindavik.

She said: “Nobody has been living in town since November 10. I was really on the fence about returning, but now I’m almost 100% sure I won’t return.

“I’ve spoken to the people I work with and some of my friends in Grindavík. We’re all just like a popped balloon we’re totally out of steam.”

She added: “It’s really hard. I was just talking to the local priest and she said her whole body hurts from the stress and anxiety.”

Eruption could go on ‘for months’

Wednesday 20 December 2023 04:00 , Athena Stavrou

An expert has warned that the volcanic eruption on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula could go on “for months”.

After weeks of anticipation, the eruption began at just after 10pm on Monday night following a swarm of seismic activity.

“It could potentially go on for several months, it could also just stop later today or tomorrow,” said Halldor Geirson, an associate professor at Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland.

He added that most of the lava flow had slowed and was heading away from the evacuated town of Grindavik. But that could still change.

“There is still a threat to Grindavik, for sure. Now the lava is flowing mostly to the north, but it depends on the topography and where the openings are,” he said.

Gas pollution warning for Icelandic capital

Wednesday 20 December 2023 04:25 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Iceland’s capital is at risk of gas pollution due to the volcano eruption near the fishing town of Grindavik following weeks of intense earthquakes.

Fumes could reach Reykjavik by Wednesday morning, the Icelandic Met Office has warned.

In an update on Tuesday, the authorities said the eruption was weakening with just three vents erupting southeast of Stóra-Skógfell, down from the previous five.

“The lava has mostly flowed east from the eruption site, but there is also a lava tongue flowing west from the region north of Stóra-Skógfell.”

At least 320 earthquakes have been measured over the magma channels since the beginning of the eruption on Monday night, the Met Office added.

Map shows nearly four-km-long fissure line near Svartsengi power plant

Wednesday 20 December 2023 04:45 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

 (Icelandic Met Office)
(Icelandic Met Office)

The above map shows the nearly four-km-long fissure east of the Svartsengi geothermal plant and north of the fishing town of Grindavik, which was evacuated last month following scores of earthquakes.

Satellite map of Iceland volcano (Icelandic Met Office)
Satellite map of Iceland volcano (Icelandic Met Office)

The above satellite map provided by the Icelandic Met Office shows the new eruptive fissure (yellow line) and lava flow (colored area) east of the Svartsengi geothermal plant.

In Pictures: Iceland’s volcanic eruption

Wednesday 20 December 2023 05:00 , Athena Stavrou

Watch moment Grindavik volcano erupts in Iceland. (Live from Iceland)
Watch moment Grindavik volcano erupts in Iceland. (Live from Iceland)
 (AP)
(AP)
Iceland Volcano Photo Gallery
Iceland Volcano Photo Gallery
 (Civil Protection in Iceland)
(Civil Protection in Iceland)

Will the volcano eruption in Iceland affect flights?

Wednesday 20 December 2023 05:09 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Flights were unlikely to be affected by the volcano eruption in Reykjanes peninsula, the Icelandic government said, quashing international travel concerns.

“The eruption does not present a threat to life,” a government statement said.

“There are no disruptions to flights to and from Iceland and international flight corridors remain open.”

Despite the proximity to the volcano, the Keflavik Airport remained open to passengers travelling in and out of the country.

Sam Mitchell, a volcanologist at the University of Bristol, said the latest eruption was very different to the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull eruption when “a large explosive eruption under a glacier produced a very large cloud and very fine ash in the atmosphere when the wind direction was pointing towards mainland Europe”.

Land in Svartsengi subsides by over 5cm

Wednesday 20 December 2023 05:45 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The land around the Svartsengi geothermal plant has subsided more than 5cm following the volcanic eruption, the Icelandic Met Office said on Tuesday.

The land had previously risen by about 35 cm since the formation of the magma channel on 10 November, according to the authorities, who added that it was too early to determine if magma would continue to accumulate under Svartsengi and whether the land would rise again.

Icelandic authorities over the past month had been building defence walls around the power plant to protect it from lava flows.

Thrill-seekers ignore danger warnings to witness dramatic scenes

Wednesday 20 December 2023 06:00 , Athena Stavrou

Thrill-seekers have thrown caution to the wind to get the chance to witness a volcanic eruption in Iceland first hand.

Icelanders flocked to the Sundhnjúkar crater on Monday evening after a 4km fissure opened up and sent plumes of toxic gas and lava along the ridge of a hill.

As Icelanders gathered around the site, the country’s government warned considerable toxic gases were being released from the volcano and urged people to stay away from the ridge.

But tourists and residents watched the eruption in awe. “It’s just something from a movie,” said Robert Donald Forrester III, a tourist from the United States.

Read the full article below:

Iceland volcano thrill-seekers ignore danger warnings to witness dramatic eruption

Is it safe to travel to Iceland after volcanic eruption?

Wednesday 20 December 2023 06:30 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The earth is at its most restless in Iceland right now. A volcano is erupting on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwest of Reykjavik.

For six weeks the Icelandic authorities have been monitoring seismic activity close to Keflavik airport, a major North Atlantic aviation hub.

The eruption is around 10 miles southwest of the airport and northeast of the town of Grindavik – whose 4,000 inhabitants were evacuated as a precaution. Yet flights are continuing to arrive and depart as normal. These are the key questions and answers on consumer rights.

I am in Iceland. Will I be able to leave?

Yes, assuming the international airport remains open. So far operations have been largely normal, after a pause to assess the risk as the eruption began.

Simon Calder has more.

Is it safe to travel to Iceland after volcanic eruption?

Officials to hold information session today

Wednesday 20 December 2023 07:00 , Athena Stavrou

Icelandic officials are due to hold an information conference today in light of Monday night’s volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula.

The meeting will be held at the Rescue Center in Skógarhlíð.

Grindvík housing issues and the Icelandic Met Office’s risk assessment are among the topics that are expected to be discussed.

 (AP)
(AP)

Is it safe to travel to Iceland after volcanic eruption? Your rights if you have a holiday booked

Wednesday 20 December 2023 07:19 , Matt Mathers

The earth is at its most restless in Iceland right now. A volcano is erupting on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwest of Reykjavik.

For six weeks the Icelandic authorities have been monitoring seismic activity close to Keflavik airport, a major North Atlantic aviation hub.

Simon Calder reports:

Is it safe to travel to Iceland after volcanic eruption?

Eruption seen 20km away

Wednesday 20 December 2023 07:45 , Matt Mathers

The volcanic eruption in Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula could be seen up to 20km away.

One resident, who lives in Sandgeroi - about 20km from Grindavik - said she had seen the eruption from her house.

"It was crazy to see it with my own eyes,” Aoalheiour Halldorsdottir told the BBC.

“We have had volcano explosions before, but this was the first time I got really scared," she told BBC News.

"We’re used to volcanoes [erupting], but this was crazy."

A close up of the Southern active segment of the original fissure of an active volcano in Grindavik on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula (AP)
A close up of the Southern active segment of the original fissure of an active volcano in Grindavik on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula (AP)

Watch: Helicopter flies over erupting Iceland volcano as lava flows from fissures

Wednesday 20 December 2023 08:32 , Alexander Butler

An Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter flew over the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano as lava flowed from fissures, footage posted on Tuesday (19 December) shows.

The eruption began on Monday a few kilometres from Grindavik, whose nearly 4,000 inhabitants were evacuated last month.

A crew flew over the Sundhnúka crater range on Monday with scientists from the Civil Defense, the Meteorological Office, and the University of Iceland to assess the extent of the eruption, the coast guard said.

Watch: Helicopter flies over erupting Iceland volcano as lava flows from fissures

Christmas at home is cancelled for evacuated Grindavik residents after Iceland volcano eruption

Wednesday 20 December 2023 08:50 , Alexander Butler

Hopes that evacuated residents of the Icelandic town of Grindavik could return in time for Christmas have been dashed after a nearby volcano finally erupted, Barney Davis reports.

Locals were said to be suffering from anxiety and stress after the volcanic eruption a few miles from their homes, a town whose nearly 4,000 inhabitants were ordered to leave last month due to the risk.

Defiant residents told The Independent they had planned to be back in the “family-friendly” port by Christmas, vowing to rebuild after a 5.2-magnitude earthquake created a fissure through the town on 10 November.

Christmas at home is cancelled for evacuated Iceland residents after volcano eruption

Eruption could go on for months

Wednesday 20 December 2023 09:15 , Alexander Butler

The eruption could go on for months, Icelandic foreign minister Bjarni Benediktsson warned.

He said the eruption on Monday was “much larger” than those seen in recent years, which he described as “nice touristic eruptions”.

“What to expect for the future?... What they are telling us is that this could continue for weeks or even potentially months,” Mr Benediktsson said.

The eruption could go on for months (AP)
The eruption could go on for months (AP)

Mapped: Latest location of Iceland volcano eruption and lava flows shown in new images

Wednesday 20 December 2023 09:43 , Alexander Butler

A volcano in southwest Iceland has finally erupted, spewing rivers of lava from at least a four-km-long fissure, weeks after scores of earthquakes jolted the Reykjanes peninsula.

The eruption late on Monday spewed lava and smoke more than 100 metres into the air after weeks of intense seismic activity that prompted the evacuation of the entire fishing town of Grindavik.

The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) on Tuesday said the crack was still three kilometres away from the Grindavik and that the power of the volcano was decreasing.

Mapped: Latest location of Iceland volcano eruption and lava flows

Volcanologist says eruption 'could die out by weekend'

Wednesday 20 December 2023 10:20 , Alexander Butler

Icelandic broadcaster RUV has cited volcanologist Thorvaldur Thordarson as saying the eruption could die out before the weekend.

“He also sees little to no chance of an eruption in Grindavik or the surrounding area,” the broadcaster said on its English language service.

But it’s not “all over”, he is reported as saying, with more eruptions likely in the area “in the coming years”.

The evacuted town of Grindavik nearby the volcanic eruption (AFP via Getty Images)
The evacuted town of Grindavik nearby the volcanic eruption (AFP via Getty Images)

Iceland volcano thrill-seekers ignore danger warnings to witness dramatic Reykjanes eruption

Wednesday 20 December 2023 10:39 , Alexander Butler

Thrill-seekers have thrown caution to the wind to get the chance to witness a volcanic eruption in Iceland first hand.

Icelanders flocked to the Sundhnjúkar crater on Monday evening after a 4km fissure opened up and sent plumes of toxic gas and lava along the ridge of a hill.

The eruption, near the town of Grindavík, comes after weeks of earthquakes and uncertainty as to whether the volcano would erupt or not.

Iceland volcano thrill-seekers ignore danger warnings to witness dramatic eruption

Will the volcano in Iceland affect flights?

Wednesday 20 December 2023 11:00 , Alexander Butler

Flights in and out of Iceland’s main airport have been affected by a much-anticipated volcanic eruption, The Independent’s travel correspondent Simon Calder reports.

For six weeks the Icelandic authorities have been monitoring seismic activity close to Keflavik airport, a major North Atlantic aviation hub.

The eruption is around 10 miles southwest of the airport and northeast of the town of Grindavik – whose 4,000 inhabitants were evacuated as a precaution.

Will the volcano in Iceland affect flights?

Man rescued by helicopter after getting lost near eruption site

Wednesday 20 December 2023 13:00 , Alexander Butler

Icelandic media is reporting that a hiker had to be rescued after getting lost near the eruption site last night.

News website Iceland Monitor cited coast guard officer Asgeir Erlendsson as saying the man was found safe after a search and brought to safety in a helicopter.

Initial reports suggested two people had given an “SOS signal” towards a passing plane from near the eruption site - but it was later confirmed to be one hiker, he said.

“The helicopter found him and took him back to town,” Mr Erlendsson told the website.

A man had to be rescued after getting lost near the eruption site last night (Icelandic Coast Guard)
A man had to be rescued after getting lost near the eruption site last night (Icelandic Coast Guard)

Better to 'stay at home and get into Christmas spirit' than head to volcano

Wednesday 20 December 2023 14:50 , Alexander Butler

Icelanders should stay at home and “get into the Christmas spirit” rather than attempt the risky journey to the eruption area, a public safety official said.

Hjordis Gudmundsdottir, communications director for Iceland’s civil defence department, told Icelandic broadcaster RUV that teams have already spent “a lot of time” turning away people trying to reach the site.

It comes after a hiker was rescued by a helicopter after getting lost near the eruption zone.

Icelanders should ‘get into the Christmas spirit’ rather than visit the eruption zone (AP)
Icelanders should ‘get into the Christmas spirit’ rather than visit the eruption zone (AP)

Watch: Iceland volcano magma shoots from vents amid apocalyptic scenes

Wednesday 20 December 2023 15:07 , Alexander Butler

'The most likely scenario is that it just stops'

Wednesday 20 December 2023 16:21 , Alexander Butler

A professor of earth sciences said the most likely scenario is that the eruption will “just stop.”

“It is difficult to see exactly what is going on, but when you get some glimpses through the snow it is obvious that it is just less and less lava flow,” Halldor Geirsson, associate professor at the Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland, said.

The “most likely scenario is that it just stops”, he said. “But if that happens, the pressure will start building again in the magma chamber, which is likely to trigger another eruption after a few weeks,” he added.

The most likely scenario is that the eruption will ‘just stop’ (AP)
The most likely scenario is that the eruption will ‘just stop’ (AP)

Is it safe to travel to Iceland after volcanic eruption?

Wednesday 20 December 2023 17:25 , Simon Calder

The earth is at its most restless in Iceland right now. A volcano is erupting on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwest of Reykjavik.

For six weeks the Icelandic authorities have been monitoring seismic activity close to Keflavik airport, a major North Atlantic aviation hub.

The eruption is around 10 miles southwest of the airport and northeast of the town of Grindavik – whose 4,000 inhabitants were evacuated as a precaution.

Is it safe to travel to Iceland after volcanic eruption?

Watch: Tourist watches on as lava shoots from Iceland volcano

Wednesday 20 December 2023 18:30 , Alexander Butler

A tourist watched on metres away from a volcanic eruption on Iceland‘s Reykjanes Peninsula on Monday, 18 December.

“I’m very excited to be here in this place, in this time, just being able to see this natural phenomenon... It’s just something from a movie,” said Robert Donald Forrester III.

The eruption began a few kilometres from Grindavík, whose nearly 4,000 inhabitants were evacuated last month.

Tourist watches on as lava shoots from Iceland volcano: ‘Something from a movie’

Watch moment Iceland volcano erupts after weeks of warnings

Wednesday 20 December 2023 19:30 , Alexander Butler

This is the moment a volcano in Iceland finally erupts, sending plumes of lava into the night sky.

The Grindavik volcano in southwest Iceland erupted on Monday evening (18 December) after weeks of uncertainty.

“Eruption has started north of Grindavík, north of Sundhnukur,” the Icelandic Met Office said, adding that the eruption began just a few kilometres north of the fishing town which was earlier evacuated following scores of earthquakes.

Watch moment Iceland volcano erupts after weeks of warnings

Grindavik residents to be allowed home temporarily

Wednesday 20 December 2023 20:30 , Athena Stavrou

The residents of Grindavík will be allowed back into the town during the day starting tomorrow. People will begin to be allowed into the town at 7am on Thursday, but they must evacuated again by 4pm.

The town was first evacuated when earthquakes began in November, and residents have been left in limbo ever since.

Úlfar Lúðvíksson, police chief in the region, said: “Many things have changed in the eruption area. Watching the eruption today is completely different than on Monday night. There have been changes there, hopefully positive.”

People entering Grindavík will not be registered and will not be escorted, but emergency personnel will be in town. Cars going in and out of town will be checked.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Eruption remains steady today

Wednesday 20 December 2023 21:30 , Athena Stavrou

The Icelandic Met Office said that the volcanic eruption has remained steady today after it began on Monday evening in southwest Iceland.

“In the last 24 hours, the highest activity in the eruption has remained around the middle of the fissure that opened on 18 December,” they said in their latest update.

“Seismic activity has been relatively steady, and there have been little changes in deformation since the eruption began.”

 (AP)
(AP)

Hazard map updated as risk of new vents opening near Grindavik lessens

Wednesday 20 December 2023 22:30 , Athena Stavrou

The Icelandic Met Office has updated their hazard assessment map to reflect that the likelihood of new volcanic vents opening near the evacuated town of Grindavik has reduced.

The new hazard map will come into effect tomorrow and be valid until December 28 unless updated otherwise.

“The Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) assesses that the likelihood of a new eruption forming without warning nearby Grindavík has decreased,” they said, citing that the eruption had remained steady on Wednesday.

They added: “It should be noted that although the likelihood of vent formation within area 4 has decreased, the hazard level in that area is nevertheless considered substantial.

“Even though the activity has decreased since the eruption began, the intensity of the eruption is still significant and comparable to eruptions at Fagradalsfjall.”

 (Icelandic Met Office)
(Icelandic Met Office)

Map shows exactly how far lava has travelled

Wednesday 20 December 2023 23:30 , Athena Stavrou

A map released by the Icelandic Met Office has shown how far the lava has travelled following a volcanic eruption in the Reykjanes Peninsula on Monday night.

The lava has mostly flowed east from the eruption site, but there is also a lava tongue flowing west from the region north of Stóra-Skógfell.

 (Icelandic Met Office)
(Icelandic Met Office)

Eruptions are tourism opportunities, says Iceland travel expert

Thursday 21 December 2023 00:30 , Athena Stavrou

Since a volcano erupted in southwest Iceland on Monday night, tourists have flocked to the site of eruption to catch a glimpse.

While officials have warned against making the journey, volcanic eruptions in Iceland are generally regarded as harmless – and interesting, if temporary, tourist attractions.

Clive Stacey, founder of specialist operator Discover the World, has been sending British tourists to Iceland for decades.

His company operates a “volcano hotline”. He told The Independent: “If there are eruptions in Iceland, and they’re safe, and worth going to see, then we organise special trips. Often they only last for a very short time, so we take people over as soon as the eruption happens.

“It really isn’t dangerous. They take all the correct precautions. They look after tourists very, very well.”

Official travel advice

Thursday 21 December 2023 01:30 , Athena Stavrou

Here is the UK’s Foreign Office’s official advice for those wanting to travel to Iceland:

A volcanic eruption started on the Reykjanes peninsula in south-west Iceland on the 18 December. The location is Sundahnúkagígar, 3km north of the town of Grindavík.

All roads to Grindavík are closed and you should stay away from the area. Keflavik International Airport is operating as normal, but you are advised to check for latest updates.

The capital city Reykjavik, and the rest of Iceland has not been impacted by this eruption. You should monitor local media for updates and follow the authorities´ advice on travel to the area.

UK Foreign Office

What is the Blue Lagoon?

Thursday 21 December 2023 02:30 , Athena Stavrou

The Blue Lagoon was forced to close its doors just one day after they reopened after a volcano erupted nearby

The spa is a steamy bathing complex of volcanic lava pools that calls itself “one of the 25 wonders of the world.

The pools are filled with water from a nearby geothermal power station. The turquoise hue of the water is acquired from the algae that share the pools with the tourists.

The Blue Lagoon is an increasingly popular “wellness” destination, with an upmarket hotel on the site.

Day visitors are welcome, too: for around £50 you get admission to the Blue Lagoon, a silica mud mask and a drink.The Blue Lagoon is best visited in the depths of winter, when steam rises from the warm water.

Keflavik International Airport is only 10 miles away, with regular buses. During a stopover en route between Europe and North America it is easy to make a side trip to the Blue Lagoon.

Iceland has many more thermal springs around the country – including in Reykjavik – and prices are generally much lower.

The Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s top tourist attractions remains closed (AP)
The Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s top tourist attractions remains closed (AP)

Officials advises people to ‘stay at home and get in the Christmas spirit’ amid volcanic eruption

Thursday 21 December 2023 03:30 , Athena Stavrou

An Icelandic official has told the national broadcaster RUV that they believe its better for people to “stay at home and get into [the] Christmas spirit” than visit the erupting volcano.

While volcanic activity has died down, the eruption still poses a dangerous threat to tourists who have flocked to the site to catch a glimpse of the sputtering lava.

Hjordis Gudmundsdottir, communications director for Iceland’s civil defence department, said that teams have already spent “a lot of time” turning away people trying to reach the site.

She added that it would be better to do some Christmas shopping, “get into the Christmas spirit or maybe just have a hot cocoa at home and wrap Christmas presents.”

 (EPA)
(EPA)

In pictures: volcanic eruption in Iceland

Thursday 21 December 2023 04:30 , Athena Stavrou

A team of scientists works on the ridge of a volcanic fissure as lava spews during a volcanic eruption (EPA)
A team of scientists works on the ridge of a volcanic fissure as lava spews during a volcanic eruption (EPA)
People watch as the night sky is illuminated caused by the eruption of a volcano in Grindavik on Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
People watch as the night sky is illuminated caused by the eruption of a volcano in Grindavik on Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
 (Civil Protection in Iceland)
(Civil Protection in Iceland)

ICYM:Man rescued by helicopter after getting lost near eruption site

Thursday 21 December 2023 05:30 , Athena Stavrou

On Monday night, a hiker had to be rescued after getting lost near the eruption site last night.

News website Iceland Monitor cited coast guard officer Asgeir Erlendsson as saying the man was found safe after a search and brought to safety in a helicopter.

Initial reports suggested two people had given an “SOS signal” towards a passing plane from near the eruption site - but it was later confirmed to be one hiker, he said.

“The helicopter found him and took him back to town,” Mr Erlendsson told the website.

“He had become very cold and had left his equipment with a flashlight in another place, which is why it was thought that these were two men.”

Grindavik residents allowed home temporarily today

Thursday 21 December 2023 06:00 , Athena Stavrou

The residents of Grindavík will be allowed back into the town during the day starting today. People will begin to be allowed into the town at 7am on Thursday, but they must evacuated again by 4pm.

The town was first evacuated when earthquakes began in November, and residents have been left in limbo ever since.

Úlfar Lúðvíksson, police chief in the region, said: “Many things have changed in the eruption area. Watching the eruption today is completely different than on Monday night. There have been changes there, hopefully positive.”

People entering Grindavík will not be registered and will not be escorted, but emergency personnel will be in town. Cars going in and out of town will be checked.

 (Barney Davis)
(Barney Davis)

Hazard map updated as risk of new vents opening near Grindavik lessens

Thursday 21 December 2023 07:00 , Athena Stavrou

The Icelandic Met Office has updated their hazard assessment map to reflect that the likelihood of new volcanic vents opening near the evacuated town of Grindavik has reduced.

The new hazard map will come into effect tomorrow and be valid until December 28 unless updated otherwise.

“The Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) assesses that the likelihood of a new eruption forming without warning nearby Grindavík has decreased,” they said, citing that the eruption had remained steady on Wednesday.

They added: “It should be noted that although the likelihood of vent formation within area 4 has decreased, the hazard level in that area is nevertheless considered substantial.

“Even though the activity has decreased since the eruption began, the intensity of the eruption is still significant and comparable to eruptions at Fagradalsfjall.”

It comes as residents of Grindavik will be allowed to return home during the day from this morning.

 (Icelandic Met Office)
(Icelandic Met Office)

Volcano erupts again sparking new evacutation

10:10 , Sam Rkaina

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 Grindavík,” 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.

Second eruption in less than a month

10:17 , Sam Rkaina

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.

Volcano erupts again sparking new evacuation

10:33 , Lydia Patrick

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 Grindavík,” 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.