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DD India

November 11, 2023 10:38 PM IST

Iceland declares state of emergency after almost 800 earthquakes in 14 hours

Iceland has issued a state of emergency, prompting authorities to advise residents to evacuate the coastal town of Grindavik. This precaution comes in light of an increased threat of a volcanic eruption, set off by a series of intense earthquakes in the southwest of the country, as reported.

Between midnight and 2 pm (local time) on Friday, almost 800 earthquakes were documented, with the most shallow occurring at a depth of 3-3.5 kilometers (1.86-2.18 miles), as reported by the Icelandic Meteorological Office.

Iceland’s Civil Protection Agency has raised concerns about the possible development of a magma tunnel that could potentially extend to Grindavik. However, as of Friday evening, they stated the difficulty in conclusively determining the presence and direction of the magma. 

“Earthquakes may become bigger than those that have already occurred, and this sequence of events could lead to an eruption. However, there are still no signs that the magma is nearing the surface. Its progress is being closely monitored,” the Civil Protection Agency said.

Authorities are urging residents to evacuate in a composed manner, assuring them that there is no immediate threat. The agency emphasized, “Residents should leave their homes and depart the town. However, it’s important to emphasize that this is a precautionary evacuation; there is ample time to make preparations, secure belongings, and leave the town calmly.”

“We want to reiterate that residents must evacuate their homes and leave the town. But we also want to reiterate that this is not an emergency evacuation; there is plenty of time to prepare, secure things and drive out of town calmly,” the Civil Protection Agency also said.

“It is clear that we are dealing with events that we Icelanders have not experienced before, at least not since the eruption in Vestmannaeyjar. We faced that together; we will face this together and we will not lose heart,” it added.

The US Embassy in Iceland issued a volcano alert, warning about the increased signs of volcanic activity. It stated, “If an eruption occurs, follow the instructions of Icelandic authorities. Volcanic hazards may include lava, toxic gases, and heavy smoke from fires ignited by lava.”

The US Embassy in Iceland has issued a volcano alert, warning about increased indications of volcanic activity. The advisory emphasizes, “In the event of an eruption, adhere to the guidance provided by Icelandic authorities. Potential volcanic risks include lava flow, harmful gases, and dense smoke resulting from fires triggered by lava.”

The globally acclaimed Blue Lagoon thermal pool in the impacted region has already shut down due to the ongoing seismic events.

Since 2021, Iceland has encountered a volcanic eruption about once every 12 months, with the latest one taking place in July south of Reykjavik, the capital.

Situated on a boundary between tectonic plates, Iceland is in a continual state of division, pushing North America and Eurasia apart along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The nation is home to 32 active volcanoes.

(Inputs from ANI)

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