Iceland volcano: hikers evacuated as lava gushes from new fissures


Steam and lava erupted Monday from a new fissure in an Icelandic volcano that began to erupt last month, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of hikers who had come to see the spectacle.

The new fissure, first detected by a tourist helicopter, was about 500 meters (550 yards) long and roughly one kilometer (about half a mile) from the original eruption site in the Geldinga Valley.

Iceland’s Department of Emergency Management announced an immediate evacuation of the area.

He said there was no imminent danger to life due to the site’s distance from popular hiking trails.

“Two new cracks opened around the place where people were walking, so […] we just clear the area to find out what is happening, “said Sigurjon Veigar, a member of the search and rescue team.

Live images of the area showed small jets of lava coming from the new fissure.

Iceland’s Met Office said the new volcanic activity was not expected to affect traffic at nearby Keflavik airport.

The long dormant volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland came to life on March 20 after tens of thousands of earthquakes struck the area in the past three weeks.

It was the first volcanic eruption in the area in almost 800 years.

Hordes of tourists

The volcano’s proximity to Iceland’s capital Reykjavik, some 32 kilometers (20 miles) away, has brought a steady stream of tourists to the area, even with the country in partial lockdown to combat the coronavirus.

About 30,000 people have visited the area since the eruption began, according to the Icelandic Tourist Board.

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