Residents of an Icelandic town evacuated due to a volcanic eruption said it would be months before they could return home

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — People in southwest Iceland remained nervous Saturday, waiting to see whether a rumbling volcano beneath the Reykjanes Peninsula would erupt. Disaster officials said even if it doesn’t, it will likely be months before it is safe Residents were evacuated from the danger zone go home.

The fishing village of Grindavik was evacuated a week ago as magma – half-molten rock – rumbled and snaked underground amid thousands of tremors. It has left a jagged crack running through the community, pushing the ground up a meter (3 feet) or more in places.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office said there was a “significant probability” that an eruption would occur somewhere along the 15-kilometer-long magma tunnel, with the “best location” being an area north of Grindavik near Mount Hagafell.

Grindavik, a town of 3,400 people, is located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of the capital Reykjavik and not far from Keflavik Airport, Iceland’s main airport for international flights. The nearness Blue Lagoon The geothermal resort, one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions, is closed until at least the end of November because of the volcanic threat.

Grindavik residents will be allowed to return for five minutes at a time to rescue valuable possessions and pets.

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A volcanic system on the Reykjanes Peninsula has erupted three times since 2021 after being dormant for 800 years. Previous eruptions have occurred in remote valleys without causing damage.

Iceland sits above a volcanic hotspot in the North Atlantic and an outbreak occurs on average every four to five years. The most devastating recent eruption was the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010, which sent huge clouds of ash into the atmosphere and grounded flights across Europe for days amid fears the ash could damage aircraft engines.

Scientists say a new eruption would likely produce lava but not an ash cloud.

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