Litli-Hrútur Eruption Site Reopens

litli hrútur 2023

After closures due to air quality and wildfires, the Reykjanes eruption site at Litli-Hrútur has been reopened by authorities.

Firefighting operations will continue, but the hiking path known as Meradalaleið is considered safe for the general public. Police and ICESAR teams will be present in the area and visitors are instructed to avoid designated hazardous areas.

Windspeed today is expected to range between 5-8 m/s, increasing in the afternoon. Gas is expected to disperse to the south and caution is advised on Suðurstrandarvegur, the road towards the eruption, and hiking paths to the volcanic site.

reykjanes eruption 2023
Met Office Iceland

Although the site has been reopened, it is still an active volcanic eruption. As such, the proper knowledge and gear are essential for visiting safely. See below for more information.

 

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New Tourism Campaign Prompts Criticism

Locals and tourists enjoy the sunshine in Reykjavík's Austurvöllur square.

A new collaborative project aimed at promoting tourism in Iceland, called “Good Hosts,” has drawn vocal criticism from Efling union chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir.

The project was announced Friday, July 14th, with Minister of Tourism Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir, Chairperson of the Tourist Service Association Bjarnheiður Hallsdóttir, Director of Tourism Arnar Már Ólafsson publishing the project’s website on social media.

The project aims to encourage Icelanders to embrace the important role of being “good hosts.” According to the project website, “the hospitality of the nation is a significant part of creating a positive experience for tourists in Iceland. Together, we are a part of some of the most valuable moments for people on their journey. We all enjoy the benefits of tourist visits. We can thank the vibrant tourism industry for its diverse services and outstanding hospitality throughout the country. The visits of these enthusiastic guests have made our society more diverse and enjoyable.”

The project additionally calls upon individuals and companies to take part in a “good host pledge.”

The project, however, has drawn criticism from some, including Efling union chairperson Sólveig Anna. In a recent post, Sólveig Anna recalls the strikes earlier this year during a particularly contentious contract negotiation:

“Last winter, Bjarnheiður Hallsdóttir claimed that the tourism industry was in ruins following COVID. She accused Efling, a union representing low-wage workers in the capital area, of manufacturing a disaster […] She also expressed concerns that if Efling’s members went on strike, exercising their constitutional right, inflation would increase, and people would become unemployed. In essence, she portrayed the legitimate and self-evident fight of low-wage workers, mostly immigrants, for a better life, as a criminal attack on the well-being of all Icelanders […] Now Bjarnheiður wants to compel all of us to promote our beautiful country for her […] She wants us all to help her sell our homeland so she can become richer.”

Among the benefits of the recent growth in Icelandic tourism, the project highlights 25,770 jobs that have been created, in addition to increased services for the entire nation.

 

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Passenger Boat Stranded at Hornstrandir

hornstrandir hiking

A passenger boat en route from Bolungarvík to Hornstrandir stranded in the late afternoon, yesterday, July 16. RÚV reports.

Hornstrandir is a wilderness reserve in the Westfjords notable for its large population of Arctic foxes. Although the region is connected to the mainland, its remote location means that hikers and travellers to the area must rely on boats.

The ship is reported to have run aground in Látravík bay near the Hornbjargsviti lighthouse. According to Landsbjörg spokesperson Jón Þór Víglundsson, the passengers reached the shore safely.

Jón Þór stated to RÚV: “Two rescue boats were sent out, one from Ísafjörður and the other from Bolungarvík. There was never any real danger during the journey, but it seems that the ship ran aground while attempting to bring the passengers ashore.”

Further information is not available at this time, but such boats generally transport small groups ranging from five to ten individuals.

The boat was assisted by the vessel Gísli Jóns from Ísafjörður and was then towed by the coastguard vessel Þór.

Reykjanes Eruption Site Remains Closed

iceland volcano 2023

The Reykjanes eruption site remains closed today, July 17, following a meeting of The Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management and local authorities. However, the decision will be reconsidered today at 1:00 PM.

The decision to close the site was made July 13 and it remained closed over the weekend.

Smoke from wildfires obscured the hiking trails to the eruption site, in addition to posing a health risk. Under these circumstances, local authorities could not guarantee the safety of those entering the area.

Read more: Firefighters Fought Wildfires Near Eruption Site Until 2 AM

Efforts are now being made to extinguish the wildfires northeast of Keilir towards the viewpoint at Hraunsels-Vatnsfell. Police also report that the Coast Guard helicopter is on its way to assist in the firefighting operation.

Despite the area being closed, search and rescue teams had to search for two travellers last night. A man in his forties was found on Höskuldarvallavegur at 6:00 A, and a woman was found east of Keilir at 3:00 AM.

reykjanes eruption hiking trail
Suðurnes Police

The above picture was taken by local authorities at 6:30 AM and shows the difficult visibility conditions. Gas plumes can be seen blowing over the hiking trail, in addition to smoke from the wildfires.

Read more about Iceland’s latest eruption on the Reykjanes here.