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Iceland volcano - latest: Stunning footage shows 100m high lava waves as man rescued by helicopter

Stunning footage has shown 100m high lava waves lap up out of an Icelandic ridge following the eruption of a volcano on the island.

The dramatic scene can be seen up to 20km away after the skies over the eruption turned orange. You can watch a live stream of the ongoing eruption here.

It comes as a hiker was rescued by a helicopter after sending a SOS signal when he got lost near the raging lava and toxic fumes overnight.

Meanwhile, Iceland’s foreign minister said scientists had warned that the volcanic eruption in Iceland could go on for months.

Bjarni Benediktsson added that the eruption on Monday was “much larger” than those seen in recent years, which he described as “nice touristic eruptions”.

More vents are expected to open as the volcanic eruption in southwest Iceland continues, the Icelandic Met Office has warned.

Three out of five vents are still active after the volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula began to erupt on Monday night, spewing lava and smoke over 100m into the air.

Key Points

  • Volcanic eruption releasing toxic gases

  • Iceland volcano finally erupts after weeks of anticipation

  • All routes to Grindavik shut for commuters

  • No disruption yet to flights in Iceland, says foreign minister

Grindavik residents allowed home temporarily today

06:00 , Athena Stavrou

The residents of Grindavík will be allowed back into the town during the day starting today. People will begin to be allowed into the town at 7am on Thursday, but they must evacuated again by 4pm.

The town was first evacuated when earthquakes began in November, and residents have been left in limbo ever since.

Úlfar Lúðvíksson, police chief in the region, said: “Many things have changed in the eruption area. Watching the eruption today is completely different than on Monday night. There have been changes there, hopefully positive.”

People entering Grindavík will not be registered and will not be escorted, but emergency personnel will be in town. Cars going in and out of town will be checked.

 (Barney Davis)
(Barney Davis)

ICYM:Man rescued by helicopter after getting lost near eruption site

05:30 , Athena Stavrou

On Monday night, a hiker had to be rescued after getting lost near the eruption site last night.

News website Iceland Monitor cited coast guard officer Asgeir Erlendsson as saying the man was found safe after a search and brought to safety in a helicopter.

Initial reports suggested two people had given an “SOS signal” towards a passing plane from near the eruption site - but it was later confirmed to be one hiker, he said.

“The helicopter found him and took him back to town,” Mr Erlendsson told the website.

“He had become very cold and had left his equipment with a flashlight in another place, which is why it was thought that these were two men.”

In pictures: volcanic eruption in Iceland

04:30 , Athena Stavrou

A team of scientists works on the ridge of a volcanic fissure as lava spews during a volcanic eruption (EPA)
A team of scientists works on the ridge of a volcanic fissure as lava spews during a volcanic eruption (EPA)
People watch as the night sky is illuminated caused by the eruption of a volcano in Grindavik on Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
People watch as the night sky is illuminated caused by the eruption of a volcano in Grindavik on Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
 (Civil Protection in Iceland)
(Civil Protection in Iceland)

Officials advises people to ‘stay at home and get in the Christmas spirit’ amid volcanic eruption

03:30 , Athena Stavrou

An Icelandic official has told the national broadcaster RUV that they believe its better for people to “stay at home and get into [the] Christmas spirit” than visit the erupting volcano.

While volcanic activity has died down, the eruption still poses a dangerous threat to tourists who have flocked to the site to catch a glimpse of the sputtering lava.

Hjordis Gudmundsdottir, communications director for Iceland’s civil defence department, said that teams have already spent “a lot of time” turning away people trying to reach the site.

She added that it would be better to do some Christmas shopping, “get into the Christmas spirit or maybe just have a hot cocoa at home and wrap Christmas presents.”

 (EPA)
(EPA)

What is the Blue Lagoon?

02:30 , Athena Stavrou

The Blue Lagoon was forced to close its doors just one day after they reopened after a volcano erupted nearby

The spa is a steamy bathing complex of volcanic lava pools that calls itself “one of the 25 wonders of the world.

The pools are filled with water from a nearby geothermal power station. The turquoise hue of the water is acquired from the algae that share the pools with the tourists.

The Blue Lagoon is an increasingly popular “wellness” destination, with an upmarket hotel on the site.

Day visitors are welcome, too: for around £50 you get admission to the Blue Lagoon, a silica mud mask and a drink.The Blue Lagoon is best visited in the depths of winter, when steam rises from the warm water.

Keflavik International Airport is only 10 miles away, with regular buses. During a stopover en route between Europe and North America it is easy to make a side trip to the Blue Lagoon.

Iceland has many more thermal springs around the country – including in Reykjavik – and prices are generally much lower.

The Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s top tourist attractions remains closed (AP)
The Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s top tourist attractions remains closed (AP)

Official travel advice

01:30 , Athena Stavrou

Here is the UK’s Foreign Office’s official advice for those wanting to travel to Iceland:

A volcanic eruption started on the Reykjanes peninsula in south-west Iceland on the 18 December. The location is Sundahnúkagígar, 3km north of the town of Grindavík.

All roads to Grindavík are closed and you should stay away from the area. Keflavik International Airport is operating as normal, but you are advised to check for latest updates.

The capital city Reykjavik, and the rest of Iceland has not been impacted by this eruption. You should monitor local media for updates and follow the authorities´ advice on travel to the area.

UK Foreign Office

Eruptions are tourism opportunities, says Iceland travel expert

00:30 , Athena Stavrou

Since a volcano erupted in southwest Iceland on Monday night, tourists have flocked to the site of eruption to catch a glimpse.

While officials have warned against making the journey, volcanic eruptions in Iceland are generally regarded as harmless – and interesting, if temporary, tourist attractions.

Clive Stacey, founder of specialist operator Discover the World, has been sending British tourists to Iceland for decades.

His company operates a “volcano hotline”. He told The Independent: “If there are eruptions in Iceland, and they’re safe, and worth going to see, then we organise special trips. Often they only last for a very short time, so we take people over as soon as the eruption happens.

“It really isn’t dangerous. They take all the correct precautions. They look after tourists very, very well.”

Map shows exactly how far lava has travelled

Wednesday 20 December 2023 23:30 , Athena Stavrou

A map released by the Icelandic Met Office has shown how far the lava has travelled following a volcanic eruption in the Reykjanes Peninsula on Monday night.

The lava has mostly flowed east from the eruption site, but there is also a lava tongue flowing west from the region north of Stóra-Skógfell.

 (Icelandic Met Office)
(Icelandic Met Office)

Hazard map updated as risk of new vents opening near Grindavik lessens

Wednesday 20 December 2023 22:30 , Athena Stavrou

The Icelandic Met Office has updated their hazard assessment map to reflect that the likelihood of new volcanic vents opening near the evacuated town of Grindavik has reduced.

The new hazard map will come into effect tomorrow and be valid until December 28 unless updated otherwise.

“The Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) assesses that the likelihood of a new eruption forming without warning nearby Grindavík has decreased,” they said, citing that the eruption had remained steady on Wednesday.

They added: “It should be noted that although the likelihood of vent formation within area 4 has decreased, the hazard level in that area is nevertheless considered substantial.

“Even though the activity has decreased since the eruption began, the intensity of the eruption is still significant and comparable to eruptions at Fagradalsfjall.”

 (Icelandic Met Office)
(Icelandic Met Office)

Eruption remains steady today

Wednesday 20 December 2023 21:30 , Athena Stavrou

The Icelandic Met Office said that the volcanic eruption has remained steady today after it began on Monday evening in southwest Iceland.

“In the last 24 hours, the highest activity in the eruption has remained around the middle of the fissure that opened on 18 December,” they said in their latest update.

“Seismic activity has been relatively steady, and there have been little changes in deformation since the eruption began.”

 (AP)
(AP)

Grindavik residents to be allowed home temporarily

Wednesday 20 December 2023 20:30 , Athena Stavrou

The residents of Grindavík will be allowed back into the town during the day starting tomorrow. People will begin to be allowed into the town at 7am on Thursday, but they must evacuated again by 4pm.

The town was first evacuated when earthquakes began in November, and residents have been left in limbo ever since.

Úlfar Lúðvíksson, police chief in the region, said: “Many things have changed in the eruption area. Watching the eruption today is completely different than on Monday night. There have been changes there, hopefully positive.”

People entering Grindavík will not be registered and will not be escorted, but emergency personnel will be in town. Cars going in and out of town will be checked.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Watch moment Iceland volcano erupts after weeks of warnings

Wednesday 20 December 2023 19:30 , Alexander Butler

This is the moment a volcano in Iceland finally erupts, sending plumes of lava into the night sky.

The Grindavik volcano in southwest Iceland erupted on Monday evening (18 December) after weeks of uncertainty.

“Eruption has started north of Grindavík, north of Sundhnukur,” the Icelandic Met Office said, adding that the eruption began just a few kilometres north of the fishing town which was earlier evacuated following scores of earthquakes.

Watch moment Iceland volcano erupts after weeks of warnings

Watch: Tourist watches on as lava shoots from Iceland volcano

Wednesday 20 December 2023 18:30 , Alexander Butler

A tourist watched on metres away from a volcanic eruption on Iceland‘s Reykjanes Peninsula on Monday, 18 December.

“I’m very excited to be here in this place, in this time, just being able to see this natural phenomenon... It’s just something from a movie,” said Robert Donald Forrester III.

The eruption began a few kilometres from Grindavík, whose nearly 4,000 inhabitants were evacuated last month.

Tourist watches on as lava shoots from Iceland volcano: ‘Something from a movie’

Is it safe to travel to Iceland after volcanic eruption?

Wednesday 20 December 2023 17:25 , Simon Calder

The earth is at its most restless in Iceland right now. A volcano is erupting on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwest of Reykjavik.

For six weeks the Icelandic authorities have been monitoring seismic activity close to Keflavik airport, a major North Atlantic aviation hub.

The eruption is around 10 miles southwest of the airport and northeast of the town of Grindavik – whose 4,000 inhabitants were evacuated as a precaution.

Is it safe to travel to Iceland after volcanic eruption?

'The most likely scenario is that it just stops'

Wednesday 20 December 2023 16:21 , Alexander Butler

A professor of earth sciences said the most likely scenario is that the eruption will “just stop.”

“It is difficult to see exactly what is going on, but when you get some glimpses through the snow it is obvious that it is just less and less lava flow,” Halldor Geirsson, associate professor at the Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland, said.

The “most likely scenario is that it just stops”, he said. “But if that happens, the pressure will start building again in the magma chamber, which is likely to trigger another eruption after a few weeks,” he added.

The most likely scenario is that the eruption will ‘just stop’ (AP)
The most likely scenario is that the eruption will ‘just stop’ (AP)

Watch: Iceland volcano magma shoots from vents amid apocalyptic scenes

Wednesday 20 December 2023 15:07 , Alexander Butler

Better to 'stay at home and get into Christmas spirit' than head to volcano

Wednesday 20 December 2023 14:50 , Alexander Butler

Icelanders should stay at home and “get into the Christmas spirit” rather than attempt the risky journey to the eruption area, a public safety official said.

Hjordis Gudmundsdottir, communications director for Iceland’s civil defence department, told Icelandic broadcaster RUV that teams have already spent “a lot of time” turning away people trying to reach the site.

It comes after a hiker was rescued by a helicopter after getting lost near the eruption zone.

Icelanders should ‘get into the Christmas spirit’ rather than visit the eruption zone (AP)
Icelanders should ‘get into the Christmas spirit’ rather than visit the eruption zone (AP)

Man rescued by helicopter after getting lost near eruption site

Wednesday 20 December 2023 13:00 , Alexander Butler

Icelandic media is reporting that a hiker had to be rescued after getting lost near the eruption site last night.

News website Iceland Monitor cited coast guard officer Asgeir Erlendsson as saying the man was found safe after a search and brought to safety in a helicopter.

Initial reports suggested two people had given an “SOS signal” towards a passing plane from near the eruption site - but it was later confirmed to be one hiker, he said.

“The helicopter found him and took him back to town,” Mr Erlendsson told the website.

A man had to be rescued after getting lost near the eruption site last night (Icelandic Coast Guard)
A man had to be rescued after getting lost near the eruption site last night (Icelandic Coast Guard)

Will the volcano in Iceland affect flights?

Wednesday 20 December 2023 11:00 , Alexander Butler

Flights in and out of Iceland’s main airport have been affected by a much-anticipated volcanic eruption, The Independent’s travel correspondent Simon Calder reports.

For six weeks the Icelandic authorities have been monitoring seismic activity close to Keflavik airport, a major North Atlantic aviation hub.

The eruption is around 10 miles southwest of the airport and northeast of the town of Grindavik – whose 4,000 inhabitants were evacuated as a precaution.

Will the volcano in Iceland affect flights?

Iceland volcano thrill-seekers ignore danger warnings to witness dramatic Reykjanes eruption

Wednesday 20 December 2023 10:39 , Alexander Butler

Thrill-seekers have thrown caution to the wind to get the chance to witness a volcanic eruption in Iceland first hand.

Icelanders flocked to the Sundhnjúkar crater on Monday evening after a 4km fissure opened up and sent plumes of toxic gas and lava along the ridge of a hill.

The eruption, near the town of Grindavík, comes after weeks of earthquakes and uncertainty as to whether the volcano would erupt or not.

Iceland volcano thrill-seekers ignore danger warnings to witness dramatic eruption

Volcanologist says eruption 'could die out by weekend'

Wednesday 20 December 2023 10:20 , Alexander Butler

Icelandic broadcaster RUV has cited volcanologist Thorvaldur Thordarson as saying the eruption could die out before the weekend.

“He also sees little to no chance of an eruption in Grindavik or the surrounding area,” the broadcaster said on its English language service.

But it’s not “all over”, he is reported as saying, with more eruptions likely in the area “in the coming years”.

The evacuted town of Grindavik nearby the volcanic eruption (AFP via Getty Images)
The evacuted town of Grindavik nearby the volcanic eruption (AFP via Getty Images)

Mapped: Latest location of Iceland volcano eruption and lava flows shown in new images

Wednesday 20 December 2023 09:43 , Alexander Butler

A volcano in southwest Iceland has finally erupted, spewing rivers of lava from at least a four-km-long fissure, weeks after scores of earthquakes jolted the Reykjanes peninsula.

The eruption late on Monday spewed lava and smoke more than 100 metres into the air after weeks of intense seismic activity that prompted the evacuation of the entire fishing town of Grindavik.

The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) on Tuesday said the crack was still three kilometres away from the Grindavik and that the power of the volcano was decreasing.

Mapped: Latest location of Iceland volcano eruption and lava flows

Eruption could go on for months

Wednesday 20 December 2023 09:15 , Alexander Butler

The eruption could go on for months, Icelandic foreign minister Bjarni Benediktsson warned.

He said the eruption on Monday was “much larger” than those seen in recent years, which he described as “nice touristic eruptions”.

“What to expect for the future?... What they are telling us is that this could continue for weeks or even potentially months,” Mr Benediktsson said.

The eruption could go on for months (AP)
The eruption could go on for months (AP)

Christmas at home is cancelled for evacuated Grindavik residents after Iceland volcano eruption

Wednesday 20 December 2023 08:50 , Alexander Butler

Hopes that evacuated residents of the Icelandic town of Grindavik could return in time for Christmas have been dashed after a nearby volcano finally erupted, Barney Davis reports.

Locals were said to be suffering from anxiety and stress after the volcanic eruption a few miles from their homes, a town whose nearly 4,000 inhabitants were ordered to leave last month due to the risk.

Defiant residents told The Independent they had planned to be back in the “family-friendly” port by Christmas, vowing to rebuild after a 5.2-magnitude earthquake created a fissure through the town on 10 November.

Christmas at home is cancelled for evacuated Iceland residents after volcano eruption

Watch: Helicopter flies over erupting Iceland volcano as lava flows from fissures

Wednesday 20 December 2023 08:32 , Alexander Butler

An Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter flew over the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano as lava flowed from fissures, footage posted on Tuesday (19 December) shows.

The eruption began on Monday a few kilometres from Grindavik, whose nearly 4,000 inhabitants were evacuated last month.

A crew flew over the Sundhnúka crater range on Monday with scientists from the Civil Defense, the Meteorological Office, and the University of Iceland to assess the extent of the eruption, the coast guard said.

Watch: Helicopter flies over erupting Iceland volcano as lava flows from fissures

Eruption seen 20km away

Wednesday 20 December 2023 07:45 , Matt Mathers

The volcanic eruption in Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula could be seen up to 20km away.

One resident, who lives in Sandgeroi - about 20km from Grindavik - said she had seen the eruption from her house.

"It was crazy to see it with my own eyes,” Aoalheiour Halldorsdottir told the BBC.

“We have had volcano explosions before, but this was the first time I got really scared," she told BBC News.

"We’re used to volcanoes [erupting], but this was crazy."

A close up of the Southern active segment of the original fissure of an active volcano in Grindavik on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula (AP)
A close up of the Southern active segment of the original fissure of an active volcano in Grindavik on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula (AP)

Is it safe to travel to Iceland after volcanic eruption? Your rights if you have a holiday booked

Wednesday 20 December 2023 07:19 , Matt Mathers

The earth is at its most restless in Iceland right now. A volcano is erupting on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwest of Reykjavik.

For six weeks the Icelandic authorities have been monitoring seismic activity close to Keflavik airport, a major North Atlantic aviation hub.

Simon Calder reports:

Is it safe to travel to Iceland after volcanic eruption?

Officials to hold information session today

Wednesday 20 December 2023 07:00 , Athena Stavrou

Icelandic officials are due to hold an information conference today in light of Monday night’s volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula.

The meeting will be held at the Rescue Center in Skógarhlíð.

Grindvík housing issues and the Icelandic Met Office’s risk assessment are among the topics that are expected to be discussed.

 (AP)
(AP)

Is it safe to travel to Iceland after volcanic eruption?

Wednesday 20 December 2023 06:30 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The earth is at its most restless in Iceland right now. A volcano is erupting on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwest of Reykjavik.

For six weeks the Icelandic authorities have been monitoring seismic activity close to Keflavik airport, a major North Atlantic aviation hub.

The eruption is around 10 miles southwest of the airport and northeast of the town of Grindavik – whose 4,000 inhabitants were evacuated as a precaution. Yet flights are continuing to arrive and depart as normal. These are the key questions and answers on consumer rights.

I am in Iceland. Will I be able to leave?

Yes, assuming the international airport remains open. So far operations have been largely normal, after a pause to assess the risk as the eruption began.

Simon Calder has more.

Is it safe to travel to Iceland after volcanic eruption?

Thrill-seekers ignore danger warnings to witness dramatic scenes

Wednesday 20 December 2023 06:00 , Athena Stavrou

Thrill-seekers have thrown caution to the wind to get the chance to witness a volcanic eruption in Iceland first hand.

Icelanders flocked to the Sundhnjúkar crater on Monday evening after a 4km fissure opened up and sent plumes of toxic gas and lava along the ridge of a hill.

As Icelanders gathered around the site, the country’s government warned considerable toxic gases were being released from the volcano and urged people to stay away from the ridge.

But tourists and residents watched the eruption in awe. “It’s just something from a movie,” said Robert Donald Forrester III, a tourist from the United States.

Read the full article below:

Iceland volcano thrill-seekers ignore danger warnings to witness dramatic eruption

Land in Svartsengi subsides by over 5cm

Wednesday 20 December 2023 05:45 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The land around the Svartsengi geothermal plant has subsided more than 5cm following the volcanic eruption, the Icelandic Met Office said on Tuesday.

The land had previously risen by about 35 cm since the formation of the magma channel on 10 November, according to the authorities, who added that it was too early to determine if magma would continue to accumulate under Svartsengi and whether the land would rise again.

Icelandic authorities over the past month had been building defence walls around the power plant to protect it from lava flows.

Will the volcano eruption in Iceland affect flights?

Wednesday 20 December 2023 05:09 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Flights were unlikely to be affected by the volcano eruption in Reykjanes peninsula, the Icelandic government said, quashing international travel concerns.

“The eruption does not present a threat to life,” a government statement said.

“There are no disruptions to flights to and from Iceland and international flight corridors remain open.”

Despite the proximity to the volcano, the Keflavik Airport remained open to passengers travelling in and out of the country.

Sam Mitchell, a volcanologist at the University of Bristol, said the latest eruption was very different to the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull eruption when “a large explosive eruption under a glacier produced a very large cloud and very fine ash in the atmosphere when the wind direction was pointing towards mainland Europe”.

In Pictures: Iceland’s volcanic eruption

Wednesday 20 December 2023 05:00 , Athena Stavrou

Watch moment Grindavik volcano erupts in Iceland. (Live from Iceland)
Watch moment Grindavik volcano erupts in Iceland. (Live from Iceland)
 (AP)
(AP)
Iceland Volcano Photo Gallery
Iceland Volcano Photo Gallery
 (Civil Protection in Iceland)
(Civil Protection in Iceland)

Map shows nearly four-km-long fissure line near Svartsengi power plant

Wednesday 20 December 2023 04:45 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

 (Icelandic Met Office)
(Icelandic Met Office)

The above map shows the nearly four-km-long fissure east of the Svartsengi geothermal plant and north of the fishing town of Grindavik, which was evacuated last month following scores of earthquakes.

Satellite map of Iceland volcano (Icelandic Met Office)
Satellite map of Iceland volcano (Icelandic Met Office)

The above satellite map provided by the Icelandic Met Office shows the new eruptive fissure (yellow line) and lava flow (colored area) east of the Svartsengi geothermal plant.

Gas pollution warning for Icelandic capital

Wednesday 20 December 2023 04:25 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Iceland’s capital is at risk of gas pollution due to the volcano eruption near the fishing town of Grindavik following weeks of intense earthquakes.

Fumes could reach Reykjavik by Wednesday morning, the Icelandic Met Office has warned.

In an update on Tuesday, the authorities said the eruption was weakening with just three vents erupting southeast of Stóra-Skógfell, down from the previous five.

“The lava has mostly flowed east from the eruption site, but there is also a lava tongue flowing west from the region north of Stóra-Skógfell.”

At least 320 earthquakes have been measured over the magma channels since the beginning of the eruption on Monday night, the Met Office added.

Eruption could go on ‘for months’

Wednesday 20 December 2023 04:00 , Athena Stavrou

An expert has warned that the volcanic eruption on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula could go on “for months”.

After weeks of anticipation, the eruption began at just after 10pm on Monday night following a swarm of seismic activity.

“It could potentially go on for several months, it could also just stop later today or tomorrow,” said Halldor Geirson, an associate professor at Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland.

He added that most of the lava flow had slowed and was heading away from the evacuated town of Grindavik. But that could still change.

“There is still a threat to Grindavik, for sure. Now the lava is flowing mostly to the north, but it depends on the topography and where the openings are,” he said.

Grindavik locals ‘deflated’ by eruption

Wednesday 20 December 2023 03:00 , Athena Stavrou

Residents of Grindavik had hoped to return to their family-friendly port town in time for Christmas before the volcanic eruption last night blew their plans out of the water.

Andrea Ævarsdóttir told The Independent she has been living in Reykjavik like most of the people from Grindavik.

She said: “Nobody has been living in town since November 10. I was really on the fence about returning, but now I’m almost 100% sure I won’t return.

“I’ve spoken to the people I work with and some of my friends in Grindavík. We’re all just like a popped balloon we’re totally out of steam.”

She added: “It’s really hard. I was just talking to the local priest and she said her whole body hurts from the stress and anxiety.”

Is it safe to travel to Iceland after volcanic eruption?

Wednesday 20 December 2023 02:00 , Athena Stavrou

The earth is at its most restless in Iceland right now. A volcano is erupting on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwest of Reykjavik.

The eruption is around 10 miles southwest of the airport and northeast of the town of Grindavik – whose 4,000 inhabitants were evacuated as a precaution.

Yet flights are continuing to arrive and depart as normal. These are the key questions on consumer rights, answered by The Independent’s Travel Correspondent, Simon Calder:

Is it safe to travel to Iceland after volcanic eruption?

Watch: Tourist watches on as lava shoots from Iceland volcano

Wednesday 20 December 2023 01:00 , Athena Stavrou

A tourist watched on, metres away from a volcanic eruption on Iceland‘s Reykjanes Peninsula on Monday.

“I’m very excited to be here in this place, in this time, just being able to see this natural phenomenon... It’s just something from a movie,” said Robert Donald Forrester III.

Responders leave Grindavik

Wednesday 20 December 2023 00:01 , Athena Stavrou

Emergency responders stationed in the evacuated town of Grindavik have been ordered to leave the town.

Icelandic broadcaster RUV reported that the decision was confirmed by police chief Úlfar Lúðvíksson and was based on an Icelandic Met Office risk assessment map.

They added that the situation will be reviewed tomorrow.

 (Barney Davis)
(Barney Davis)

320 earthquakes recorded since eruption began

Tuesday 19 December 2023 23:00 , Athena Stavrou

A volcano erupted in southwest Iceland last night following a “swarm of seismic activity”.

The earthquakes did not stop then however, as 320 further earthquakes have been recorded since the eruption at 10:17pm.

The Icelandic Met Office said: “Since the eruption began, about 320 earthquakes have been measured over the magma channels.

“The largest earthquake, with a magnitude of 4.1, occurred at 23:25 on Monday.

“After midnight, seismic activity significantly decreased, and since 12:00 today, only 10 earthquakes have been recorded in the region. “

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

More vents likely to open as eruption continues

Tuesday 19 December 2023 22:00 , Athena Stavrou

The Icelandic Met Office has warned that more vents are likely to open along the original volcanic fissure.

As of Tuesday evening, three vents are currently active as the volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula continues to erupt.

The original fissure was around 3.5km long and spewed lava and smoke 100m into the air.

An Icelandic Met Office spokesperson said: “While the eruption continues at Sundhnúksgíga, there is an increased likelihood that more vents may open along the original fissure as well as further north or south.

“Looking back at the lead-up to the eruption reveals that there were approximately 90 minutes between the first indicators and the start of the eruption.

“Therefore, the warning time for new vent openings at Sundhnúk could be very short.”

Risk of new fissures opening

Tuesday 19 December 2023 20:59 , Athena Stavrou

An Icelandic Met Office official has said there may be a risk of new cracks even though the eruption has subsided.

Reviewing a hazard assessment map issued by the Met Office earlier today, Kristín Jónsdóttir told local news that she believes the biggest risk is now new fissures opening

The head of natural hazards at the Icelandic Meteorological Office also believes that Grindavik could be in danger, but it probably won’t be covered by lava in the very next few days, RUV reported.

Scientists work at eruption site

Tuesday 19 December 2023 20:30 , Athena Stavrou

Scientists have been pictured working at the site of a volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula today.

The lava flow has decreased since it began on Monday night but people have been warned to stay away from the site of activity.

 (EPA)
(EPA)

Volcano closes Blue Lagoon day after reopening

Tuesday 19 December 2023 20:00 , Athena Stavrou

Tourist hotspot the Blue Lagoon has closed again the day after finally reopening due to the eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula.

A Blue Lagoon spokesperson said: “A volcanic eruption commenced in Sundhnúkagígar on the evening of December 18. As a result, we have temporarily closed our facilities in Svartsengi. All guests with confirmed bookings in the upcoming days will be contacted.

“We will continue to monitor the progress and maintain close communication with the authorities, prioritizing safety and well-being. Sundhnúkagígar is a known volcanic area east of Blue Lagoon and north of Grindavík.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Lava fountains were 500m tall at height of eruption

Tuesday 19 December 2023 19:30 , Athena Stavrou

Nicola Maxey, a spokesperson for the UK Met Office, has said: “An effusive eruption started a few km NE of Grindavík nearby Hagafell just after 10pm last night.

“This eruption is an effusive eruption, i.e. mainly lava and gas, and that there is no volcanic ash.

“At this time there is no impact on aviation. Vigorous lava fountains are clearly visible from cameras and radar images, while they reach around 500m in height they do not contain any ash.”

Since then the Icelandic Met Office has said the intensity of the volcanic eruption is slowly decreasing.

They added: “The fact that the activity is decreasing already is not an indication of how long the eruption will last, but rather that the eruption is reaching a state of equilibrium.

 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Brit captures stunning picture of eruption under northern lights

Tuesday 19 December 2023 19:01 , Athena Stavrou

Greg Lukosek, 37, a software developer from Bedford, captured a stunning image of the shimmering Northern Lights merging with the bright orange fires of the volcanic eruption.

He said: “I’m travelling with my family, my wife and kids who are four and 11 – but I’m not too worried.I’ve seen previous eruptions although this one is much more intense and happening faster.

“Me and my family fell in love with Iceland in January. It’s our fifth trip here. We have seen a previous eruption at Litli-Hrutur and got very, very close as we hiked and spent the night right next to the lava fields.”

Watch the ongoing eruption live

Tuesday 19 December 2023 18:36 , Athena Stavrou

A volcano in southwest Iceland finally erupted after weeks of uncertainty last night, sending plumes of lava high into the night sky.

The eruption prompted officials to warn anyone in the area to leave immediately, and to activate emergency civil protection response protocols.

While the eruption is slowing, it is still ongoing. You can watch live below:

Lava flow ‘one quarter’ of original eruption

Tuesday 19 December 2023 18:16 , Athena Stavrou

The Icelandic Met Office has said that the current lava flow from the volcanic eruption in the Reykjanes peninsula is around one-quarter of what it was at the beginning.

The eruption started at 10:17pm last night and saw lava and smoke thrown 100m into the air from the 3.5km fissure.

Now, a third of the original fissure is thought to still be active.

“The size of the volcanic eruption at Sundhnúksgígar continues to diminish,” the Icelenadic Met Office said.

“The lava flow is estimated to be about one-quarter of what it was at the beginning of the eruption on 18 December, and a third of the original fissure is active. The lava fountains are also lower than at the start of the eruption, reaching about 30 meters at their highest.”

 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)

Volcanic eruption releasing toxic gases

Tuesday 19 December 2023 17:43 , Athena Stavrou

The volcanic eruption on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula is releasing “considerable” toxic gases, according to the Icelandic Tourist Board.

“Please be advised that this eruption is releasing considerable toxic gases and people are strongly advised against visiting the site of the eruption while responders and scientists assess the situation,” they told CNN.

It comes as the Icelandic Met Office has warned that Reykjavik could be hit by gas pollution later today.

“According to the weather forecast, gas pollution could be noticed in the capital area late tonight or in the morning,” it said in a statement.

Christmas cancelled for evacuated Grindavik residents

Tuesday 19 December 2023 16:46 , Athena Stavrou

Hopes that evacuated residents of the Icelandic town Grindavik could return in time for Christmas have been dashed after a nearby volcano finally erupted.

Locals were said to be suffering from anxiety and stress after the volcanic eruption a few kilometres from their homes, a town whose nearly 4,000 inhabitants were ordered to leave last month due to the risk.

Defiant residents told The Independent they had planned to be back in the “family-friendly” port by Christmas vowing to rebuild after a 5.2 magnitude earthquake split the town on November 10.

The Mayor of Grindavik has confirmed there were no locals in the port town at the time of the eruption but dashed any hopes they could return before Monday.

Read the full article by my colleague Barney Davis below:

Christmas at home is cancelled for evacuated Iceland residents after volcano eruption

No chance of Christmas in Grindavik says Mayor

Tuesday 19 December 2023 16:22 , Athena Stavrou

The Mayor of Grindavik has addressed the residents after a volcano erupted 3km north of the evacuated town.

“The last 24 hours have been eventful for us,” Mayor Fannar Jónasson said,

“Unfortunately, the hope that had ignited in the hearts of many about the possibility of celebrating Christmas at home in Grindavík was extinguished when the eruption began yesterday.”

He added that residents in need of emotional support may contact their service centre in Tollhúsinu.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Is it safe to travel to Iceland?

Tuesday 19 December 2023 16:01 , Athena Stavrou

After a volcano erupted in southwest Iceland yesterday following weeks of earthquakes, many are wondering if it is still safe to travel.

The answer in short is yes - mostly.

So far operations at Keflavik International Airport have been largely normal, after a pause to assess the risk as the eruption began.

An easyJet departure to Manchester due out early evening on Monday eventually took off at 1.35am on Tuesday, over five hours late, and arrived safely at Manchester airport at 4am.

On Tuesday most flights are running normally.

The Foreign office says that all roads to the evacuated town of Grindavík are closed and that toursists should stay away from the area.

However, they added that the capital city Reykjavik and the rest of Iceland has not been impacted by this eruption.

Watch: The moment the volcano erupted

Tuesday 19 December 2023 15:33 , Athena Stavrou

The volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula erupted at 10:17pm on Monday night, following weeks of anticipation and seismic activity.

Watch the moment it erupted - spewing lava and smoke 100m into the air - below:

Blue Lagoon temporarily closed

Tuesday 19 December 2023 15:04 , Athena Stavrou

The Blue Lagoon thermal spa said it will remain closed until December 28 at least following the volcanic eruption nearby the famous resort.

In a statement on Tuesday, the tourist attraction said: “A volcanic eruption commenced in Sundhnúkagígar on the evening of December 18.

“As a result, we have temporarily closed our facilities in Svartsengi. The closure will be in effect through December 27, at which point the situation will be reassessed.

“All guests with confirmed bookings in the upcoming days will be contacted.”

They added that they will continue to monitor the progress of the eruption.

Capital to be hit with gas pollution following eruption

Tuesday 19 December 2023 14:30 , Athena Stavrou

After a volcano erupted on the Reykjanes peninsula, the Icelandic Met Office has warned that Reykjavik could be hit by gas pollution later today.

“According to the weather forecast, gas pollution could be noticed in the capital area late tonight or in the morning,” it said in a statement.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Eruption could go on ‘for months'

Tuesday 19 December 2023 13:59 , Athena Stavrou

An expert has warned that the volcanic eruption on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula could go on “for months”.

After weeks of anticipation, the eruption began at just after 10pm on Monday night following a swarm of seismic activity.

“It could potentially go on for several months, it could also just stop later today or tomorrow,” said Halldor Geirson, an associate professor at Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland.

He added that most of the lava flow had slowed and was heading away from the evacuated town of Grindavik. But that could still change.

“There is still a threat to Grindavik, for sure. Now the lava is flowing mostly to the north, but it depends on the topography and where the openings are,” he said.

 (HANDOUT/AFP via Getty Images)
(HANDOUT/AFP via Getty Images)

Latest UK Foreign Office travel advice

Tuesday 19 December 2023 13:29 , Athena Stavrou

After weeks of anticipation, a volcanic eruption began on the Reykjanes peninsula in Iceland last night.

In the wake of seismic activity, the town of Grindavik near the site of the eruption had to be evacuated and the famous tourist destination the Blue Lagoon spa was closed.

Here is the UK Foreign Office’s latest travel advice for Iceland:

A volcanic eruption started on the Reykjanes peninsula in south-west Iceland on the 18 December. The location is Sundahnúkagígar, 3km north of the town of Grindavík.

All roads to Grindavík are closed and you should stay away from the area. Keflavik International Airport is operating as normal, but you are advised to check for latest updates.

The capital city Reykjavik, and the rest of Iceland has not been impacted by this eruption. You should monitor local media for updates and follow the authorities´ advice on travel to the area.

UK Foreign Office

The eruption is now isolated in ‘middle of 4km fissure’

Tuesday 19 December 2023 13:25 , Barney Davis

The power of the volcanic eruption is dying down, local researchers say with the lava currently flowing north away from the town of Grindavik.

A Volcanoes and Natural Hazards Group of Suðurland wrote in a Facebook post: “The southern end of the lava is just 3 km from the northernmost settlement in Grindavík.

“The eruption is now isolated around the middle of the fissure that originally erupted last night.

“The southernmost part of the lava lies outside Sundhnúki itself and has covered a small crater between the craters and Vatnheiða.”

They added: “The power of the first hours was many times greater than in the eruptions of the last three years in Reykjaneskagi.

“Production in the eruption roughly estimated to be in the range 100-200 m3/s and could well have been more.

“The eruption increased rapidly for the first 3 hours after the eruption began and there was a significant earthquake in the area while the ground was breaking.”

 (Icelandic Coast Guard)
(Icelandic Coast Guard)

Inside Grindavik the town under threat from volcanos and earthquakes

Tuesday 19 December 2023 13:00 , Barney Davis

The residents had just minutes to leave the little harbour town on Iceland’s west coast, but hoped to be back for Christmas.

The question now is will they ever see their homes again

Inside the abandoned Iceland town left in limbo by a volcano

50 workers racing to strengthen lava defences with a two metre weakpoint still exposed

Tuesday 19 December 2023 12:23 , Barney Davis

Arnar Smári Þorvarðarson, a civil engineer at Verkís, says the eruption has created new conditions digging lava trenches and strengthening fortifications on the Reykjanes Peninsula.

Around 50 workers have been creating the defences and ar enow racing to make sure it is at the full height all the way across to protect the nearby fishing village of Grindavik and a power plant.

Þorvarðarson said: “The state of the fortification is such that we have built it up to its full height for the most part.

“There is maybe a section of eight hundred meters where two meters are missing.

“Then there is a gap at the Bláa Lónið, where we also need full height.”

Race against time to protect Svartsengi power plant from lava (Screengrab/ RUV)
Race against time to protect Svartsengi power plant from lava (Screengrab/ RUV)

No-one in Grindavik at time of eruption - mayor

Tuesday 19 December 2023 12:01 , Barney Davis

The Mayor of Grindavik, the town closest to the volcanic eruption in Iceland, has confirmed there were no locals in the port town at the time of the eruption.

Fannar Jónasson added it was a relief no magma has so far erupted in town but it was clear that there will be no Christmas in Grindavik this year.

He said: “It would be very serious if lava flows started to flow towards Grindavík. There is actually a possibility of reacting and at least delaying that progress with powerful machines that are in the area.

“It is already being considered, but as things stand, we are not the most worried about this, but it is close enough that it will not be possible to celebrate Christmas in Grindavík.”

He says it is a relief that the eruption did not occur in a worse place.

“The record location is perhaps the best on this crack. Considering how the situation was during a period when a magma tunnel was under the town, you can say that this is a relief.”

 (Barney Davis)
(Barney Davis)

Grindavik locals ‘deflated’ by eruption

Tuesday 19 December 2023 11:45 , Barney Davis

Residents of Grindavik had hoped to return to their family-friendly port town in time for Christmas before the volcanic eruption last night blew their plans out of the water.

Andrea Ævarsdóttir told The Independent she has been living in Reykjavik like most of the people from Grindavik.

She said: “Nobody has been living in town since November 10. I was really on the fence about returning, but now I’m almost 100% sure I won’t return.

“I’ve spoken to the people I work with and some of my friends in Grindavík. We’re all just like a popped balloon we’re totally out of steam.”

She added: “It’s really hard. I was just talking to the local priest and she said her whole body hurts from the stress and anxiety.”

 (Getty)
(Getty)

Tourist watches on as lava shoots from Iceland volcano: ‘Something from a movie’

Tuesday 19 December 2023 11:30 , Barney Davis

Tourists have been heading towards a volcanic eruption on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula on Monday, 18 December.

“I’m very excited to be here in this place, in this time, just being able to see this natural phenomenon... It’s just something from a movie,” said Robert Donald Forrester III.

The eruption began a few kilometres from Grindavík, whose nearly 4,000 inhabitants were evacuated last month. Authorities also closed the nearby Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.

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

Tourist watches on as lava shoots from Iceland volcano: ‘Something from a movie’

Lava fountains were 500m tall at height of eruption

Tuesday 19 December 2023 11:20 , Barney Davis

Nicola Maxey, a spokesperson for the UK Met Office, has said: “An effusive eruption started a few km NE of Grindavík nearby Hagafell just after 10pm last night.

“This eruption is an effusive eruption, i.e. mainly lava and gas, and that there is no volcanic ash.

“At this time there is no impact on aviation. Vigorous lava fountains are clearly visible from cameras and radar images, while they reach around 500m in height they do not contain any ash.”

Since then the Icelandic Met Office has said the intensity of the volcanic eruption is slowly decreasing.

They added: “The fact that the activity is decreasing already is not an indication of how long the eruption will last, but rather that the eruption is reaching a state of equilibrium.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Live stream of volcano north of Grindavik

Tuesday 19 December 2023 11:01 , Barney Davis

Flight Radar claim ‘just 13 flights cancelled' due to erupting volcano

Tuesday 19 December 2023 10:50 , Barney Davis

Flight Radar have said that flights have largely been departing on time despite the enormous volcanic eruption just miles away from Keflavik Airport.

They posted on X: “Our data reveals minimal impact on operations at Keflavik Airport (KEF) following the volcanic eruption at Grindavik, likely due to no ash cloud.

“Just 13 flights have been cancelled in the past 24 hours, representing 5% of departures and 4% of arrivals.”

Flights were earlier delayed for just an hour as the coast guard assessed the danger presented by the eruption just 4km north from Grindavik.

Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter flies near magma running on a hill near Grindavik on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula (AP)
Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter flies near magma running on a hill near Grindavik on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula (AP)

Coast guard ferry fishing vessel to safety away from port of Grindavik

Tuesday 19 December 2023 10:45 , Barney Davis

The Icelandic coast guard has revealed their daring overnight operations as they ferried a fishing boat to safety away from the town of Grindavik and helped scientists assess the erupting volcano.

A spokesman wrote on Facebook: “As soon as the command centre of the Coast Guard received a notification that an eruption had started, a helicopter crew was called out to fly with three scientists so that the extent of the eruption, the length of the fissure and the flow of lava could be assessed.

“The guard ship Þór, which was sailing off Sandgerði, was already directed to Grindavík and arrived there around midnight. At the request of Suðurnesj operations management, Þór will remain available at Grindavík until further notice.

They added: “The Coast Guard's special operations team was sent to the security area at Keflavík Airport to support the activities of the Defense Department.

“One fishing vessel was known to be in the port of Grindavík, the liner Fjölni GK, and in consultation with the shipping company Vísi hf. and the police chief in Suðurnes decided to ferry it from Grindavík.

“The ship's crew was located in the capital area, and the Coast Guard's special operations team was responsible for ferrying the crew via Krýsuvíkurleið and Suðurstrandarveg to Grindavík.

“The ship left Grindavík free after five o'clock.”

 (Icelandic Coast Guard)
(Icelandic Coast Guard)

Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter surveys volcano site

Tuesday 19 December 2023 10:38 , Barney Davis

 (Civil Protection in Iceland)
(Civil Protection in Iceland)
 (Icelandic Coast Guard)
(Icelandic Coast Guard)
 (Icelandic Coast Guard)
(Icelandic Coast Guard)

Tourists spotted heading towards volcanic eruption

Tuesday 19 December 2023 10:25 , Barney Davis

Thrill-seekers have thrown caution to the wind to get the chance to witness a volcanic eruption in Iceland first hand.

Icelanders flocked to the Sundhnjúkar crater on Monday evening after a 4km fissure opened up and sent plumes of toxic gas and lava along the ridge of a hill.

The eruption, near the town of Grindavík, comes after weeks of earthquakes and uncertainty as to whether the volcano would erupt or not.

Alexander Butler reports:

Iceland volcano thrill-seekers ignore danger warnings to witness dramatic eruption