The volcanic eruption in Iceland took a turn for the worse on Sunday afternoon as a new fissure opened quite close to the town of Grindavik in the early afternoon local time. Magma from the new fissure was just 20 meters from the nearest building, an evacuated industrial structure, Icelandic radio RUV reported.
Thorvaldur Thordarson, a volcanologist, told RUV that the worst-case scenario is that the upper crack that opened on Sunday morning will calm down, and the new lower one will take over. He said it “does not look good,” even though the fissure is still small.
Fannar Jonasson, mayor of Grindavik, described the situation to RUV as ominous. “This is a new situation compared to this morning,” he said. “There is little else to do but to wait and see what will happen and where the lava will lead in the future in the next hours and days.”
Lava has reached a highway not far from the town. A defensive wall was built across the road, and the lava is flowing along it, as reported by RUV. Emergency workers were able to remove essential equipment to avoid losing them to the magma.
At least two houses had caught fire by late afternoon. Benedikt Halldorsson, an expert in earthquake activity at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told RUV, “It is not possible to imagine anything worse than an eruption in a settlement and lava flowing onto houses.”
Linda Karen Gunnarsdottir, chairperson of the Animal Protection Association of Iceland, said there are sheep in at least five properties. Animals were evacuated in December, but people have brought them back. “Of course, they weren’t supposed to be there,” she told RUV.
According to RUV, the eruption does not affect flights to and from Keflavik Airport. ■