Icelandic eruption, writer Pagani: “The worst in 50 years, houses swallowed by lava”

The writer at Adnkronos: “No one is anymore in danger because the evacuation was carried out quickly and successfully”

The one underway in the Svartsengi volcanic system, in the south-east of Iceland, ”is the most serious eruption since that of Vestmannaeyjar, when the entire island of Heimaey was evacuated 50 years ago”. The inhabitants of Grindavik, about 70 km south-west of the capital Reykjavik, ”are seeing their homes swallowed by lava, through webcams and without being able to do anything”. Luckily ”the evacuation of the city which was scheduled for Monday was brought forward to tonight and for this reason there were no victims. The damage is only material”. The writer Roberto Luigi Pagani, author of ‘An Italian in Iceland’ and the travel guide ‘Iceland’ for National Geographic, explains it to Adnkronos.

Fortunately ”no one is in danger anymore because the evacuation was carried out quickly and successfully,” says Pagani, who has lived in Reykjavik since 2014. ”No danger even for tourists or travellers, because the road to the airport is on the opposite side from where the lava is now flowing”, he adds, specifying that ”there will be no impacts for aviation because there is no it is the interaction between ice, water and magma that produces ash” in the skies. Furthermore ”the gases emitted by the eruption are pushed by the winds towards the sea and not towards the inhabited centres”, underlines the medievalist.

What happened, says Pagani, is that ”in the middle of the night the Icelandic meteorological institute recorded numerous small earthquakes that were moving from the area north-east of Grindavik, where last December’s eruption was recorded, and they were concentrating right under the homes”. This has raised fears that an eruptive fracture could open right in the center of the city. So Grindavik was urgently evacuated again tonight after it was decided, a few days ago, to let people return home”, continues Pagani.

Already in the last few hours ”the Minister of the Interior had called a press conference announcing that the apartments assigned to the displaced people had been found”, where they could house the inhabitants of Grindavik who, in fact, would be evacuated on Monday according to plans. ”In the early hours of this morning a fracture opened a short distance north east of Grindavik”, in the following hours ”another one opened and the houses were reached by the lava”.

Civil Protection has declared a state of emergency for what is the fifth eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula since 2021. The last one in the Svartsengi volcanic system began on 18 December, causing the evacuation of the 4 thousand inhabitants of the city of Grindavik and the closing of the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, a popular tourist spot. On that occasion Grindavik was spared from the lava.