The UK Foreign Office has sent out a warning to people travelling to Iceland as the Nordic island nation is preparing for a possible volcanic eruption.
With Iceland experiencing hundreds of small earthquakes over the last couple of days, thousands of people have been evacuated. The seismic activity in Reykjanes peninsula, southwest of Reykjavik, has fissured roads, and shut down tourist attractions amid fears of a massive volcanic eruption, according to news reports.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has not declared travel to Iceland unsafe but has issued last-minute changes for tourists in the country.
“Earthquakes and indications of volcanic activity have increased above normal levels on the Reykjanes peninsula, southwest of Reykjavik. The Icelandic authorities continue to monitor the area closely, particularly the area northwest of Mt Thorbjörn near the Svartsengi power plant and the Blue Lagoon.
“On 10 November, a Civil Protection Alert was declared after an intense swarm of earthquakes. The town of Grindavík was evacuated as a precaution. While there is no current eruption, it is increasingly possible that one could occur,” wrote FCDO in its latest advisory.
The FCDO also alerted travellers about some roads being closed, with visitors being advised to “stay away” from the region in southwest Iceland. The UK Foreign Office has also urged its people to monitor local media for updates and follow the authorities’ advice on travel to the area.
The Keflavik International Airport is operating as normal and unlikely to be affected in case of an eruption, as per the government in Iceland, which has also ensured tourists and its locals that the country is prepared to deal with any volcanic events.
What does Iceland’s state of emergency mean?
The state of emergency in Iceland has resulted in more than 4,000 locals getting evacuated from the town of Grindavík. The country’s popular tourist spot, Blue Lagoon, is expected to remain closed until Nov. 30, when it will be reviewed again.
Is Reykjavik safe from a volcanic eruption?
The earthquakes so far have occurred across the Reykjanes peninsula, with the evacuated town just 35 miles from the Icelandic capital city. While Reykjavik has not been evacuated and is currently unaffected, this could change at short notice.
Iceland averages a volcanic eruption every five years. The country’s tourism board has also pointed out that the country has been struck by three eruptions in the last three years on the same peninsula where activity is currently being monitored, people have been unharmed and travel remained undisrupted.