Eruption Begun On Reykjanes Peninsula

reykjanes eruption grindavík

An eruption has begun on the Reykjanes peninsula.

According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, the fissure has opened north of Grindavík, near Hagafell mountain.

The Meteorological Office states that the eruption began at 10:17 pm local time, following an M4.2 earthquake that was recorded around 9:00 pm.

A coast guard helicopter is in the air to confirm the exact location and magnitude of the eruption.

Mayor of Grindavík Speaks Out

Fannar Jónason, mayor of Grindavík, states to Vísir that it could come down to a matter of mere metres, when asked if the eruption would affect Grindavík.

He stated to Vísir that at the moment, he knows just as much as others, but has been in contact with several agencies and parties since the eruption.

“We know very little, but we are trying to figure it out,” he stated to Vísir. He continued: “Like others, I am still trying to get information about the situation, but it seems to be a large eruption in its early phases.”

In his statement to Vísir, he said he could not confirm the exact location of the eruption. “We still don’t know,” he stated. “It’s going to be a long night.”

This is breaking news. Updates will follow.

Iceland’s Parliament Grants Palestinian Girl Citizenship

Alþingi parliament of Iceland

A 17-year-old girl from Gaza says she’s grateful to the Icelandic Parliament for granting her Icelandic citizenship last week, RÚV reports. Asil Al Masri is currently in hospital in Egypt, recovering from injuries sustained in an Israeli attack that killed several of her family members and injured others. Asil looks forward to reuniting with her brother who lives in Iceland.

One of Alþingi’s last tasks before a holiday recess last week was to grant 20 people Icelandic citizenship by parliamentary decree. Seventeen-year-old Asil was within the group. She lost her mother, sister, and five-year-old nephew in an Israeli army attack on October 17, which also injured several more of her relatives. A short time later, Asil’s father died in hospital. Asil herself was also seriously injured in the attack, leading to her leg being amputated above the knee. After the amputation, she was transferred to a hospital in Cairo, Egypt.

Asil has therefore lost her home and all of her immediate family besides her brother Suleiman who lives in Iceland. It’s thanks to Suleiman’s efforts and supporters in Iceland that Asil is now officially an Icelander.

Wants to thank the Icelandic people

Speaking to RÚV reporters via video call from Cairo, Asil stated her condition was improving and she expected to be “in perfect health” by the time she reached her new home. Asked what her plans were once she reached Iceland, Asil stated “At first I want to meet every Icelander that helped me, that spent time and effort to reach my case to the Icelandic government.” Then she added: “After finishing my treatment, I want to start to study the Icelandic language to continue my studies.”

In the longer term, Asil stated that she wants to “give back to the Icelandic community and enter the labour market so I can help with the renaissance and the development of Iceland.”

She also asked to convey a message to those who helped her gain Icelandic citizenship. “I would like to thank the Icelandic Members of Parliament, the Icelandic people, and all the humanitarian associations and institutions that understood my humanitarian situation.”

Grindavík Residents May Be Home for Christmas

grindavík evacuation

The evacuation order on Grindavík may be lifted in time for residents to return to their homes for Christmas, according to the Chief of Suðurnes Police. Authorities are waiting for the next risk assessment from the Icelandic Met Office to make a final decision on the matter. The Southwest Iceland town (pop. 3,600) was evacuated on November 10 due to seismic activity and the risk of a volcanic eruption.

Seismic activity has calmed

In late October and early November, a powerful earthquake swarm and land deformation damaged roads, homes, and infrastructure in Grindavík. On November 10, residents were ordered to evacuate the town, and the evacuation order remains in effect. While seismic activity has since calmed, a “danger phase” remains in effect for the Grindavík area. Residents are now permitted to enter Grindavík between 7:00 AM and 9:00 PM but are not allowed to stay overnight.

Chief of Suðurnes Police Úlfar Lúðvíksson says that most Grindavík residents have respected the evacuation order, though Vísir reports that one restauranteur refused to leave the town yesterday evening. Seismic activity in the town has calmed, as well as land rise, though it continues in the Svartsengi area north of Grindavík.

Waiting for risk assessment

“I expect the Met Office to update their risk assessment map on Wednesday,” Úlfar told Vísir. “I’m waiting for that day because we weight and evaluate the situation every day and if we believe there’s reason to lift the evacuation then, with good reasoning, then we’ll do that.”

Air Traffic Controllers Continue Strike Actions

Keflavík airport Icelandair

The air traffic controllers of Iceland were on strike today for the third time since last week. Their next strike is scheduled for Wednesday morning. Air traffic controllers’ collective agreement negotiations with the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) are at a deadlock. Icelandair’s CEO says continued strikes would increase the likelihood of flight cancellations over the holidays. Iceland’s Parliament may be preparing to step in with legislation to break the strike, according to mbl.is.

Parliament may legislate to break strike

According to mbl.is, the Infrastructure Ministry is preparing a bill to break the strikes, if negotiations remain at a standstill. Minister of Infrastructure Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson did not wish to confirm this, however, when contacted by the outlet. Sigurður Ingi did refer to the responsibility held by the negotiating parties “right before Christmas, following a natural disaster that has cost this society a considerable amount.”

Two unions, the State Flight Staff Association (Félag flugmálastarfsmanna ríkisins) and the Dock Workers Association (Félag hafnarverkamanna), have issued statements in support of Iceland’s air traffic controllers and their right to strike. They underline the right to strike as necessary toward maintaining a just balance of power between workers and employers.

No negotiation meetings scheduled

The collective agreement of air traffic controllers expired on October 1 and negotiations with the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) have gone very slowly. This is the third air traffic controller strike in Iceland in five years. Arnar Hjálmsson, president of the Air Traffic Controller Association asserts that the salaries of Iceland’s 152 air traffic controllers have lagged compared to other professions in the industry in recent years.

The next strike is scheduled for 4:00 AM-10:00 AM on Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, no meetings are on the calendar between the negotiating parties.