Iceland: Thousands flock to see new volcanic eruption

Iceland: Thousands flock to see new volcanic eruption
Credit: Belga

Onlookers flocked on Thursday to the site of a new volcanic eruption about 40 km from Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.

The eruption began on Wednesday in a volcanic fissure located in an uninhabited valley. It was just under a kilometer from the Mount Fagradalsfjall volcano in southwest Iceland, which erupted for six months last year.

The site of the eruption, in an area that is difficult to access and requires a 90-minute walk, attracted more than 1,830 visitors on the first day of the appearance of the fissure, according to Icelandic authorities.

Onlookers could still be seen walking towards the site on Thursday. On Wednesday the authorities had called on the population not to go to the area before a risk assessment was carried out. However, on Thursday, civil protection said only young children had to stay away from it.

Gases emanating from volcanic eruptions, especially sulphur dioxide, can be dangerous or even fatal.

Last year, the site of the eruption, easily accessible on foot, had attracted more than 435,000 tourists.

The Meteorological Institute of Iceland estimated the length of the crack at 360 meters on Thursday, with lava jets reaching around 10 to 15 metres high. The flow of lava in the early hours of the eruption was estimated at 32 cubic meters per second, according to measurements by scientists from the Institute of Earth Sciences on Wednesday, three and a half hours after the start of the eruption.

According to the Institute, lava from the new eruption covered an area of about 74,000 square metres.

Iceland has 32 volcanic systems considered active, the most in Europe.

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