Iceland Volcano Erupts Weeks after Grindavik Town Evacuation

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On Monday, December 18, at 22:17 local time (07:17 p.m. Ugandan time), a volcano that had been anticipated for months officially erupted in southwest Iceland, spewing lava and smoke and turning the sky orange across a wide area after weeks of intense earthquake activity, threatening a nearby town and prompting the country’s civil defence to be on high alert.

According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, the eruption appears to have happened roughly four kilometres (2.4 miles) from the town of Grindavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland.

“It appears that the magma is flowing at a rate of at least 100 cubic metres per second; the eruption is bigger for the area and a lot bigger than we have seen,” Vidir Reynisson, the Director of Civil Defence, stated.

Police evacuated residents of Grindavik last month due to heavy seismic activity in the area that destroyed homes and generated concerns about an impending eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula.

Reykjavik’s nearby Keflavik International Airport remained open, albeit with numerous delays listed for both arrivals and departures.

There are “no disruptions to flights to and from Iceland, and international flight corridors remain open,” stated Bjarne Benediktsson, Iceland’s foreign minister, on Twitter.

The Icelandic Met Office confirmed that it has not seen any ash, but it is still keeping an eye on the situation, according to Dan Stround, senior operations meteorologist at the UK Met Office. He stated that there are currently no significant concerns as the volcanic eruption has not yet produced ash.

“Seismic activity together with measurements from GPS devices indicate that the magma is moving to the southwest and the eruption may continue in the direction of Grindavik,” the Met Office noted.

Grindavik, a fishing town of 3,400, sits about 50 kilometres (31 miles) southwest of the capital, Reykjavik, and is not far from Keflavik Airport, Iceland’s main facility for international flights.

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