A volcano erupted in an earthquake hotspot near Iceland’s capital

COPENHAGEN, Aug 3 (Reuters) – A volcano has erupted on a mountain near Iceland’s capital Reykjavik amid increasing tremors for days, the Icelandic Meteorological Institute (IMO) said on Wednesday.

Pictures and live broadcasts from local news agencies MBL and RUV showed lava and smoke seeping from fissures in the ground on the side of Mount Fakradalsfjal, which last year witnessed a six-month eruption.

Tourists and residents should avoid the area due to toxic gases, although there is no immediate risk of damage to critical infrastructure, the Department of Civil Defense and Emergency Management said in a statement.

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Although helicopters were sent to survey the situation, a “code red” was declared to prohibit aircraft from flying over the site, the IMO told Reuters.

If the eruption is confirmed to be similar to fissures seen last year, the aviation alert will be downgraded to orange, signaling a reduced risk, an agency spokesman said.

“Currently, there are no disruptions to flights to and from Iceland and international flight corridors remain open,” the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Reykjanes peninsula is a volcanic and seismic hotspot, and the eruption occurred 25 km (15 mi) from Reykjavík and 15 km from the country’s international airport.

In March of last year, volcanic fountains erupted spectacularly from a fissure 500 to 750 meters (1,640 to 2,460 feet) long, continuing into September and attracting thousands of Icelanders and tourists to the spectacle.

Unlike the 2010 eruption of the snow-capped Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which grounded about 100,000 flights and forced hundreds of Icelanders from their homes, this eruption is not expected to spew much ash or smoke into the atmosphere.

Located between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, one of the largest on the planet, Iceland experiences frequent earthquakes and high volcanic activity when the two plates move in opposite directions.

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Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Terje Solsvik; Editing by Toby Chopra and Lisa Shumaker

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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