Iceland volcano erupts on Reykjanes peninsula

Iceland volcano erupts on Reykjanes peninsula

A volcanic eruption occurred on the Reykjanes peninsula in southwest Iceland following weeks of intense earthquake activity. Approximately 4,000 individuals were evacuated from the fishing town of Grindavik, and the nearby Blue Lagoon geothermal spa was shut down. The eruption initiated north of the town at 22:17 local time (22:17 GMT), as reported by the Icelandic Met Office.

The region around the capital, Reykjavik, has witnessed escalating earthquake activity since late October. Social media posts displayed images and videos of lava erupting just an hour after a seismic event or earthquake swarm was detected.

To pinpoint the exact location and size of the eruption, a coastguard helicopter was dispatched to the area. The Met Office revealed that the eruption was situated about 4km (2.5 miles) northeast of Grindavik, with seismic activity progressing toward the town. 

The volcanic crack measures approximately 3.5km, and the lava is flowing at a rate of 100 to 200 cubic meters per second, surpassing the output of previous eruptions on the Reykjanes peninsula in recent years.

A senior police officer at Civil Defence conveyed that the eruption unfolded swiftly and seemed to be a considerable event. Lava was observed flowing in various directions from a substantial crack in the volcano.

The eruption is visible from Reykjavik, located approximately 42km northeast of Grindavik. Witnesses reported that half of the sky in the Grindavik direction was illuminated in red, with smoke billowing into the air. Authorities cautioned people to steer clear of the area.

Iceland's Prime Minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir, expressed confidence in the recently constructed defenses and conveyed her thoughts to the local community. She hoped for the best despite the significant nature of the event. 

President Gudni Johannesson emphasized that safeguarding lives is the top priority, with efforts made to protect structures. In April 2010, the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption led to the largest closure of European airspace since World War Two due to an extensive ash cloud, resulting in estimated losses of 1.5-2.5 billion euros.

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