The Civil Protection Department announced after a meeting with travel agents at its headquarters in Skógarhlíd in Reykjavík at noon that tourists in Iceland are safe. They discussed the situation that arose after a glacial flood in Mýrdalsjökull tore the bridge across the river Múlakvísl on the Ring Road in south Iceland last night.
Search and rescue are on the alert and assisting people in the danger zone. ICE-SAR trucks during the eruption in Grímsvötn. Photo by Robertas Mickevicius.
However, people should stay away from the defined danger zone at Mýrdalsjökull and the Mýrdalssandur plains. “The security of tourists in the surrounding rural area has been secured; search and rescue team members have traveled there and assisted people,” Íris Marelsdóttir of the Civil Protection Department told ruv.is.
Tourists who are traveling on small vehicles to the east of Múlakvísl and were planning to drive to the west might face some problems. “The Ring Road is torn and people are looking into the consequences for the tourist industry now that there isn’t any bridge across Múlakvísl,” Marelsdóttir said.
It is being looked into whether tourists have to take the Ring Road to the north or whether they can take the highland route Fjallabaksleid nyrdri (F208), in which case they have to have larger 4x4 vehicles.
“The Icelandic Road Administration will meet today and discuss the situation so we will have to wait and see what comes out of that meeting,” Marelsdóttir commented. It could take weeks to repair the bridge.
The activity in the glacier is subsiding but it is still uncertain whether there was a small volcanic eruption underneath the icecap, where the volcano Katla lies, or whether the glacial flood was caused by something else.
The situation is still risky. “We are just on alert right now and would like to lift the danger level and cancel the evacuations as soon as possible. But we don’t think it’s safe yet. We would like the activity to decrease some more first,” Marelsdóttir stated.
This morning, rural areas that were considered to be at a risk of flooding, including Álftaver, were evacuated.
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