Three tourists were injured in Iceland on Wednesday evening as they walked across rough terrain towards a volcanic eruption that draws awe-stricken onlookers to hot lava fountains, a spokeswoman for Iceland’s civil protection agency said.
The injuries, including a broken ankle, were not serious, but they highlighted the risks hikers face if they try to walk to the lava flowing from the Fagradalsfjall volcano in southwest Iceland, spokeswoman Hjordis Gudmundsdottir said in an interview Thursday.
“We tell people that while we know it’s spectacular and there’s nothing like it, we have to be careful and be ready before we go,” Gudmundsdottir said.
According to her, the trip there and back takes about five hours, and since the volcano erupted last year, may involve crossing lava that is still brittle and hot below the surface. Officials also warned of sudden gas pollution near the site of the eruption.
“We are trying to tell people that this is not just a walk in the park,” Gudmundsdottir said. “People should be careful, in good clothes and good shoes. We are trying to tell both the Icelanders and our foreign friends about it.”
A tourist with a broken ankle was taken by helicopter to the hospital. Gudmundsdottir said. According to her, two others were helped out of the volcano in cars.
Mrs. Gudmundsdottir said she expects more tourists to arrive in the coming days, especially after dark when fiery lava stands against the Icelandic night sky.
“We don’t know how many people were there, but we know there are many and we know there will be more in the coming days,” she said. “We know we can’t say, ‘Stay away.’ We don’t lock this place up.”
Lava began flowing Wednesday from a crack in the ground around Fagradalsfjall, near the town of Grindavik on the Reykjanes peninsula, the Icelandic government said on Wednesday. statement. The statement said the eruption came after intense seismic activity over the past few days.
The government said the eruption is considered “relatively small” and that the risk to communities and critical infrastructure is low. Fissure eruptions typically do not result in large explosions or significant ash plumes flying into the stratosphere, the statement said.
But the government said it continues to advise people not to visit the site. The site of the eruption “is a dangerous area and conditions can change quickly,” the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management said. statement on Thursday.
He warned that when the wind weakened, toxic gas could build up, that new lava fountains could open without warning, and that accumulated lava could quickly flow across the ground.
The fissure is about nine miles from a major transport hub, Keflavik Airport, and about 16 miles from the Reykjavik metropolitan area, the government said.
“We have been expecting an eruption somewhere in the area since a series of earthquakes started over the weekend,” Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdóttir said in a statement. “Of course, we will continue to monitor the situation closely, and now we are also benefiting from the experience gained during last year’s eruption.”
Iceland has a long history of volcanic activity with over 30 active volcanoes. The country is located between two tectonic plates, which are separated by an underwater mountain range from which molten hot rock or magma exudes. Earthquakes happen when magma pushes through plates.
Keflavik Airport said on its website on Thursday that there were no disruptions to inbound or outbound flights.
Icelandair also sought to reassure passengers that its flights were not disrupted as it advertised the volcanic eruption on Facebook, writing on Wednesday that “Iceland’s summer just got hotter!” It includes a link to live eruption sites.