Iceland: Tourists warned to stay away from erupted volcano spewing lava and poisonous gas

Tourists have been advised to refrain from visiting the volcano while experts carry out safety assessments. Credit: AP

Tourists in Iceland are being warned to stay away from an erupting volcano near the country's capital which is spewing lava and may be releasing poisonous gas.

The explosion happened on Monday afternoon just 30 kilometres southwest of Reykjavik, near the country's main airport in Keflavik.

Thousands of earthquakes shook the area before the volcanic eruption, which was near the Litli-Hrútur mountain, meteorological experts say.

The volcano, commonly known as Fagradalsfjall, erupted in 2022 and also in 2021.

It's the third time the Fagradalsfjall volcano has erupted in the last two years. Credit: AP

“Gas pollution is high around the eruption and dangerous,” the The Icelandic Meteorological Office said. “People are advised not to enter the area until responders have had a chance to evaluate conditions.”

The Met Office also said the latest eruption was initially more explosive than the previous two, but there is no imminent hazard to people in the region.

Aerial footage showed streams of orange molten lava and clouds of gases spewing from a fissure about 900 metres long.

Icelandic Meteorological experts say people should not visit the area while it is being assessed.

By Tuesday morning, the fissure and the volume of the eruption had shrunk, scientists said.

“This has become a small eruption, which is very good news,” University of Iceland geophysics professor Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson told Icelandic broadcaster RUV.

He said the eruption could “certainly last a long time, but luckily we’re not looking at a continuation of what we saw in the first few hours.”

A 2021 eruption in the same area produced spectacular lava flows for several months. Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to see the sight.

The country, which sits above a volcanic hot spot in the North Atlantica, sees an eruption every four to five years.

Iceland, which sits above a volcanic hot spot in the North Atlantic, averages an eruption every four to five years.

The most disruptive in recent years was the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which sent huge clouds of ash into the atmosphere and led to widespread airspace closures over Europe.

More than 100,000 flights were grounded, stranding millions of international travelers and halting air travel for days because of concerns the ash could damage jet engines.

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