Iceland faces worst volcanic damage in 50 years

REYKJAVIK: A volcanic eruption in Iceland is destroying homes for the first time in more than 50 years, as lava flows reached the edge of a fishing town, setting houses alight. It was the North Atlantic nation’s fifth volcanic eruption in under three years. The most recent occurred just weeks ago on December 18 in the same region, southwest of the capital Reykjavik.
Fountains of molten rock and smoke spewed from fissures in the ground across a wide area stretching to the town of Grindavik, where at least two buildings had caught fire.No people were in danger as the town had been evacuated. “Although infrastructure may be under threat,” Iceland’s President Gudni Johannesson wrote on X, adding there had been no interruptions to flights.
Though Iceland is used to eruptions, residents haven’t experienced an event threatening inhabited areas at such a scale since 1973, when part of a town of some 5,000 people was buried under lava in the Westman Islands, off the south coast.
Authorities built barriers of earth and rock in recent weeks to try to prevent lava from reaching Grindavik, some 40 km southwest of the capital Reykjavik, but the latest eruption have penetrated the town’s defences. The nearby geothermal spa Blue Lagoon had closed on Sunday, it said on its website.
“There’s no way to tell” how much destruction Grindavik might face as “that depends on the duration of the eruption,” said Benedikt Ofeigsson, a geophysicist at the Meteorological Office. While measurements point to easing activity at the site, the degree of uncertainty remains high, he said.
The area had lain dormant for almost 800 years until early 2020, when intense seismic activity started on the peninsula, with magma emerging in 2021. The island nation, which calls itself the land of fire and ice, has about 30 volcanic systems and over 600 hot springs. It is one of the most geologically active places on earth. Agencies
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