Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

LOCAL thrillseekers last night ignored warnings from local officials to get a glimpse of Iceland’s erupting volcano up close.

The Grindavik volcano finally erupted on Monday, spewing molten lava 330 feet into the air from a crevice over two miles long.

EPAThe volcano erupted on Monday evening, spewing lava and smoke hundreds of feet into the air[/caption]

GettyReckless thrill-seekers have been approaching the volcano to get a closer look[/caption]

GettyLocals crowd around to watch the volcano despite repeated warnings from officials[/caption]

AFPEmergency workers and scientists in a Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter flying over the eruption[/caption]

TwitterThe moment the Grindavik volcano erupted[/caption]

Shocking footage captured the volcano exploding as burning red plumes of fire and smoke poured into the black sky.

After weeks of concerning earthquakes and a crack even opening up in the nearby town, the volcano finally burst.

Now shocking pictures have emerged of dozens of people gathering near the fiery spectacle to watch lava pour down the mountain.

Almost 4,000 people were evacuated from the nearby town of Grindavik in recent days amid fears they would be at risk from the long anticipated eruption.

But government officials were forced to repeatedly warn people wanting to get close to the volcano.

One spokesperson said: “Think about someone other than yourself and follow the guidelines of the public safety. Please”.

Iceland cops also added: “An eruption has begun.

“We ask people not to be in front of the responders and not to go in the direction of the eruption.

“It is important that roads and other things are as accessible as possible.”

The eruption ripped open a 2.5 mile-long crack in the surface of the volcano, which at one end is only three kilometres from local town Grindavik.

Grindavik itself is only 25 miles southwest of Iceland’s capital Reykjavik.

A government spokesperson previously said: “The eruption does not present a threat to life”.

The lava is appearing to flow away from Grindavik instead of towards it, giving residents and officials hope for minimal disruption.

Local geologist Bjorn Oddson told Icelandic media RUV: “The eruption is taking place north of the watershed, so lava does not flow towards Grindavik”.

This is the volcano’s fourth eruption in just two years.

One tourist from the US who wanted a closer look, Robert Forrester, said it was like “something from a movie”.

Four boys told local media that they always go to watch eruptions in the local area and said: “We are trying to see the eruption.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get any closer. It’s a hobby that we’ve had for four years, attending every single eruption, and we’ll continue to do so.”

Iceland is seen as a seismic and volcanic hot spot as the two plates – Eurasian and North American – move in opposite directions.

The country declared a state of emergency after recent concerns increased, with the UK foreign office warning that “no travel can be guaranteed safe”.

An evacuation effort had already taken place in recent days that saw nearly 4,000 people moved out of the fishing town of Grindavik in the country’s southwest.

Iceland’s president, Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson, said: “It is not clear what damage it can cause, but now we rely on our scientists as well as all those who need to do monitoring and other operations. 

“Above all else, we protect human life but we do all the defence of structures to the best of our ability.”

Inhabitants of Grindavik described being whisked from their homes as the ground shook, roads cracked and buildings suffered structural damage in a recent devastating spell of bad weather.

Belgian-born Hans Vera, 56, has lived in Iceland since 1999 and said there had been a constant shaking of his family’s house.

“You would never be steady, it was always shaking, so there was no way to get sleep,” said Vera, who is now staying at his sister-in-law’s home in a Reykjavik suburb.

“It’s not only the people in Grindavik who are shocked about this situation it’s the whole of Iceland.”

Almost all of the town’s 3,800 inhabitants had been able to find accommodation with family members or friends, and only between 50 and 70 people were staying at evacuation centres, a rescue official said.

Some evacuees were briefly allowed back into the town on Sunday to collect belongings such as documents, medicines or pets, but were not allowed to drive themselves.

“You have to park your car five kilometres from town and there’s 20 cars, huge cars from the rescue team, 20 policemen, all blinking lights, it’s just unreal, it’s like a war zone or something, it’s really strange,” Vera said.

The nearby Blue Lagoon geothermal spa had also been closed as a precaution.

It comes after a British woman filmed her boyfriend’s house shaking before they were forced to flee amid euption fears.

Caitlin McLean, from Scotland, was visiting her boyfriend Gisli Gunnarsson when a series of earthquakes led to the evacuation of 3,000 people from Grindavik.

Ms McLean, 34, captured the moment the furniture and light fixtures shook violently in Mr Gunnarsson’s home on Friday.

The couple packed only a few essential items to stay with Mr Gunnarsson’s mother in Reykjavik.

The Reykjanes peninsula is a volcanic and seismic hot spot southwest of the capital.

In March 2021, lava fountains erupted spectacularly from a fissure in the ground measuring between 500-750 metres long in the region’s Fagradalsfjall volcanic system.

Aerial footage last week appeared to show a huge crack billowing steam in Grindavik, splitting the Icelandic town in half.

Experts said a nine-mile river of magma running under the peninsula was still active, the BBC reports.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office said last Monday that there was a “significant likelihood” of an eruption in coming days on or just off the Reykjanes peninsula near the capital Reykjavik, despite the size and intensity of earthquakes decreasing.

Matthew James Roberts, director of the service and research division at the meteorological office said: “We believe that this intrusion is literally hovering, sitting in equilibrium now just below the earth’s surface.”

EPAThe lava is apparently flowing away from the town[/caption]

APThe crack that opened up is over two miles long[/caption]

APIcelandic Coast Guard helicopter flying over the lava near Grindavik on Monday[/caption]

APPolice at the entrance of the road to Grindavik – where thousands of people were evacuated[/caption]

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