Tourists stand just yards away from erupting volcano despite toxic gasses

Volcano erupts in Iceland southwest of Reykjavik

It is no doubt a spectacular sight as the volcano in Iceland continues to erupt boiling lava down Mount Fagradalsfjall, just 20 miles southwest of the capital, Reykjavik.

This mesmerising moment has captured the attention of locals in the Nordic country who are stopping to take pictures and marvel at mother nature.

Spectators and tourists have spotted the billowing black smoke from as far as the road connecting the capital to the international airport.

Video footage shows the glowing lava bursting and teeming down from the volcano in all different directions, although it has been described as a “low intensity” eruption by experts.

Authorities have warned people to avoid the area which is in an uninhabited valley near the Litli-Hrútur mountain. The eruption sent streams of molten lava and clouds of gases spewing from the snaking fissure which is about 900 metres long.

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Police moved quickly to seal off access to the site of the eruption and issued health warnings to residents in the vicinity. This is also because the poisonous gases present a legal threat to life if inhaled but are invisible to the naked eye.

Shortly after the eruption, the department of civil protection and emergency management said: “The police, after counsel from scientists, have decided to restrict access to the eruption site due to enormous and life-threatening toxic gas pollution. For the next hours, it is highly likely that gas will build up around the eruption site due to low wind.”

The Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) said the wind would carry some of these gasses north, potentially affecting several areas including the Icelandic capital. The Reykjanes Peninsula regional destination management office also ordered the closure of all trails to the volcano.

The eruption started in the evening of July 10, marking the third time in two years that lava erupted in the area.

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There were five days of seismic activity, before the volcano erupted, culminating in an earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale.

Speaking to The Times, Thorvaldur Thordarson, professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland said it was a “low intensity, effective eruption”. This means “it’s not causing widespread threats due to explosive activity” but if the eruption continues it could threaten infrastructure.

Iceland has 33 active volcanic systems, which is the highest number in Europe and eruptions happen every five years on average. The island straddles across the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which is a crack in the ocean floor separating Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

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