A volcano in southwestern Iceland erupted for the second time in less than a month on Sunday, sending lava snaking towards a nearby community and setting at least one home on fire.
The eruption came after a series of earthquakes near the town of Grindavik, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said.
The community was evacuated overnight, Iceland’s RUV television reported.
“Lava is flowing a few hundred metres north of the town – this is 400 to 500 metres,” Kristin Jonsdottir, from the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told Iceland’s RUV television.
“Lava flows towards Grindavik.”
Residents of Grindavik were previously evacuated from their homes in November and had to stay away from the town for six weeks following a series of earthquakes and an eventual volcanic eruption.
They were allowed to return on December 22.
The town of 3,800 near Iceland’s main airport was evacuated on November 10 when a series of earthquakes led to cracks and openings in the earth between the town and Sylingarfell, a small mountain to the north.
The nearby Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, one of Iceland’s biggest tourist attractions, also closed temporarily.
In the weeks since, defensive walls had been placed around the volcano in hopes of directing the magma away from the community.
But the walls of the barriers built north of Grindavik have been breached and lava is on the move towards the community, the meteorological office said.
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 times was the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which spewed huge clouds of ash into the atmosphere and led to widespread airspace closures over Europe.
Sunday’s eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula, about 30 miles south-west of the capital, Reykjavik, was not expected to release large amounts of ash into the air.
Airport operator Isavia’s press officer, Gudjon Helgason, said operations at Keflavik Airport are continuing as normal.
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