Volcano in southwestern Iceland erupts, flight warning issued

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Volcanic eruption in southwestern Iceland (Photo/Credit: Icelandic Meteorological Office - IMO tweet)
Volcanic eruption in southwestern Iceland (Photo/Credit: Icelandic Meteorological Office - IMO tweet)

Reykjavik [Iceland], March 20 (ANI): Iceland has reported a volcanic eruption on the southwest Reykjanes Peninsula, southwest of the capital Reykjavik, the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) tweeted on Friday.

"A volcanic eruption started this evening at 20:45 near Fagradalsfjall in Geldingadalur," IMO said in a tweet.

"The eruption is considered small at this stage and the eruptive fissure is app. 500 m long. The magma area is app. 1km2. Lava fountains are small," it further said in the tweet.

Iceland's Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management is advising people within several miles of the volcano to close their windows and stay indoors to avoid the effects of volcanic gas in the air.

"Volcanic gas pollution is expected to extend as far as Thorlakshofn and to continue into the night. People are asked to close windows and stay indoors. The status and amount of Sulfur Dioxide Pollution (SO2) emissions from the eruption are being assessed," the agency tweeted late Friday.

Iceland has more than 30 active and extinct volcanoes. The huge 1784 eruption of Laki caused a famine that killed about a quarter of Iceland's population. In April 2010, the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull resulted in a significant air traffic disruption in Europe.

According to CNN, people were urged to avoid the Reykjanesbraut highway on the south-west Reykjanes Peninsula, which connects Greater Reykjavik to Iceland's Keflavik International Airport.

"First responders need to be able to drive freely to assess the situation. Scientists are working on assessing the eruption," the authority tweeted.

The eruption comes after weeks of increased seismic activity on the peninsula, with some 400 earthquakes detected in the region on Thursday morning alone, according to the IMO.

"This is somewhat less seismic activity in comparison to previous mornings where the numbers have been around 1,000 earthquakes," the IMO said in a tweet on Thursday. (ANI)