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Iceland: Reykjanes volcano erupts, cuts off hot water

The crack in the earth's surface that spewed lava was estimated to be three kilometers long

The crack in the earth's surface that spewed lava was estimated to be three kilometers long

A volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula in southwestern Iceland erupted Thursday for the third time since December, spewing lava streams up to 80 meters (260 feet) into the air.

Video footage of the crack in the earth's surface, estimated to be three kilometers (two miles) long, showed the fissure illuminating a plume of smoke rising into the dark morning sky that could be seen 40 kilometers (25 miles) away in the capital, Reykjavik.

Bright orange molten rock spewed from fissures in the ground on the Reykjanes peninsula, and lava crossed a road near the Blue Lagoon, a luxury geothermal spa, which had to be closed because of the eruption.

Eruption cuts off hot water

Iceland's Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management declared a state of emergency after lava flowed over a pipe carrying geothermal water used to heat homes in the area, causing the pipe to burst.

Rikke Pedersen, who heads the research group at the Nordic Volcanological Center in Reykjavik, said more than 20,000 people had lost access to hot water. Reykjavik's Keflavik Airport also lost access to hot water, but said it was otherwise operating as usual.

The civil protection authority urged people in the affected area to use only one small electric heater per household to avoid power outages. Restoring hot water through an emergency pipeline already under construction could take days, it said.

New era of seismic activity

Iceland is home to 33 active volcanic systems, the highest number in Europe. It straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a crack in the ocean floor that separates the Eurasian tectonic plate from the North American tectonic plate.

But until March 2021, the Reykjanes peninsula had not experienced an eruption in eight centuries.

The last eruption in the area began on January 14 and lasted about two days. Lava flows reached the outskirts of the fishing town of Grindavik, where nearly 4,000 residents were evacuated and some homes were set on fire.

dh/wd (AFP, dpa, Reuters)