Iceland volcano warning: Evacuees were allowed to return to their homes for five minutes, and the aviation alert was lifted

The evacuation comes after hundreds of small earthquakes shook the region every day for more than two weeks, as scientists monitor the accumulation of magma at a depth of about 5 kilometers underground.

advertisement

Residents of a small Icelandic town close to a volcano expected to erupt in the coming days or weeks were given just five minutes to return home to collect valuables on Monday.

Grindavik was evacuated on Saturday after experts warned that recent seismic activity indicated an eruption was imminent.

The town, with a population of 3,400, is located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, about 50 kilometers southwest of the capital, Reykjavik.

The authorities warned that residents were only allowed to be inside the town during daylight hours, and said that only one person from each family was allowed to return. Police also insisted that returnees only collect important items such as pets, medicines, passports and important documents.

A number of sheep were also rescued.

The Met Office said: “At this stage, it is not possible to determine exactly if and where magma may reach the surface.”

“You’re confused when you walk in,” Solveig Thorbergsdottir said.

“You only have five minutes, but I extended it to 15 minutes and just saved what I saw around me. Pictures of the grandchildren. Pictures of me when I was young. My best clothes, my wedding dress.”

Residents were accompanied by police officers there to ensure they did not stay for too long.

“No one has complained so far,” said Olafur Úrvar Olafsson, the police officer in charge.

“I would understand if they weren’t happy, but that’s the way it is today.”

See also  Airlines cancel flights to Israel amid attacks

The Icelandic Meteorological Office said police decided to evacuate Grindavik after monitoring indicated that a corridor of magma, or semi-molten rock, now extended beneath the community.

Authorities also raised the aviation alert to orange, indicating an increased risk of a volcanic eruption. Volcanic eruptions pose a serious risk to aviation because they can spew highly abrasive ash into the atmosphere, which can cause jet engines to malfunction, damage flight control systems and reduce visibility.

A major eruption in Iceland in 2010 caused widespread disruption to air travel between Europe and North America, costing airlines an estimated €2.81 billion, as they canceled more than 100,000 flights.

The evacuation comes after hundreds of small earthquakes shook the region every day for more than two weeks, as scientists monitor the accumulation of magma at a depth of about 5 kilometers underground.

Concerns about a possible eruption grew in the early hours of Thursday when a 4.8-magnitude earthquake struck the area, forcing the world-famous Blue Lagoon geothermal resort to temporarily close.

Geology professor Pall Einarsson told Icelandic RUV that the seismic activity began in the northern Grindavik area where there is a network of 2,000-year-old craters. He said the magma corridor is about 10 kilometers long and spreading.

“The biggest earthquakes originated there, under this ancient series of craters, but since then (the magma corridor) has become longer, going under the urban area of ​​Grindavik and heading further out to sea,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *