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Iceland volcano 'could erupt within hours' as state of emergency declared

Iceland volcano 'could erupt within hours' as state of emergency declared

Three thousand residents have been evacuated

Experts have warned that a volcano in Iceland could erupt in ‘hours or days’, with thousands of residents being evacuated.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office said there was a ‘considerable’ risk that a volcano near the southwestern town of Grindavik could erupt, with 3,000 people being evacuated from the town as a precaution.

Thorvaldur Thordarson, professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland told local news outlet RUV: "I don’t think it’s long before an eruption, hours or a few days. The chance of an eruption has increased significantly."

Civil defence authorities have declared a state of emergency in the fishing town after recent seismic activity in the area moved south toward the town and monitoring indicated that a corridor of magma, or semi-molten rock, now extends under the community, Iceland’s Meteorological Office said.

The Meteorological Office warned: “At this stage, it is not possible to determine exactly whether and where magma might reach the surface.”

The town, which is situated on Reykjanes Peninsula, is home to around 3,400 residents who police have decided to evacuate.

Authorities also raised their aviation alert to orange, indicating an increased risk of a volcanic eruption.

The UK has warned British would-be-travellers that it is ‘increasingly possible’ that a volcanic eruption could occur.

A town in Iceland has been warned that a volcanic eruption could happen in days.

The Foreign Office warning reads: “Earthquakes and indications of volcanic activity have increased above normal levels on the Reykjanes peninsula, southwest of Reykjavik.

“The Icelandic authorities continue to monitor the area closely, particularly the area northwest of Mt Thorbjörn near the Svartsengi power plant and the Blue Lagoon.”

Yesterday (10 November), a Civil Protection Alert was declared after an intense swarm of earthquakes.

It read: “The town of Grindavík was evacuated as a precaution. Some roads have been closed and visitors are advised to stay away from the area.

“Keflavik International Airport is operating as normal. While there is no current eruption, it is increasingly possible that one could occur.

“You should monitor local media for updates and follow the authorities advice on travel to the area.”

The evacuation comes after the region was shaken by hundreds of small earthquakes every day for more than two weeks as scientists monitor a build-up of magma some three miles underground.

Officials are concerned a volcano could erupt in ‘hours or days’.

Concerns about a potential eruption increased earlier this week after a 4.8 magnitude earthquake hit the area - prompting the internationally known Blue Lagoon geothermal resort to close temporarily.

The seismic activity started in an area north of Grindavik where there is a network of 2,000-year-old craters, geology professor Pall Einarrson, told Iceland’s RUV. The magma corridor is about six miles long and spreading, he said.

He said: “The biggest earthquakes originated there, under this old series of craters, but since then it (the magma corridor) has been getting longer, went under the urban area in Grindavik and is heading even further and towards the sea.”

Featured Image Credit: PA/Getty

Topics: World News