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Search-and-rescue volunteers assist a tourist by the new lava in Geldingadalur on the Reykjanes Peninsula
Photo: Golli. Search-and-rescue volunteers assist a tourist by the new lava in Geldingadalur on the Reykjanes Peninsula.

Eruption Site Closed To Spectators

The area around the eruption site in Geldingadalur valley on the Reykjanes peninsula is now closed as toxic gas from the eruption measures over the safety limit. There was heavy traffic in the area over the weekend despite adverse weather conditions and up to 140 search- and rescue volunteers spent last evening and night helping ill-prepared tourists get home. People are asked to respect the closure, in a notice from the Reykjanes Police force.

Scientists found that the amount of toxic gases in the area is above safety levels. The area around the eruption site is closed and people are asked to respect the closure. Public Relations Representative for the Icelandic Search-And-Rescue teams Davíð Már Bjarnason told Iceland Review that both police and Search-and-rescue volunteers are monitoring closure points and the only groups allowed in the area today are scientists and trained search-and-rescue volunteers. It’s very dangerous to approach the volcanic eruption at the moment. Weather conditions during the night were bad and a yellow weather alert is currently in place.

Hundreds of people visited the eruption site yesterday despite adverse weather conditions. Yesterday afternoon, the weather turned for the worse and up to 140 search-and-rescue volunteers spent the evening and night monitoring the area and the hiking paths, helping people who got lost or fatigued during the hike. While many people were brought to an emergency response centre in Grindavík, volunteers searched throughout the night for owners of cars parked at the start of the hiking path towards the eruption, even requesting the aid of the Icelandic Coast Guard’s helicopter. Around six this morning, most of the search efforts were finished but one abandoned car in the area still worried authorities. Luckily, its owner was located around 10 am this morning, safe and sound.

Dozens of people have been helped since yesterday afternoon. Many of those who needed help were fatigued after a long hike, there have been some minor accidents and a few people have gotten lost. One was transported to the hospital in Reykjavík by ambulance. Ice-SAR urges people to stay away from the eruption site during the night and to watch the weather forecast and police updates carefully.

A yellow weather alert is in place for the Reykjanes peninsula, including the eruption site. There’s no weather for travelling, and heavy winds in the forecast with gusts of wind up to 30 m/s, sleet or snow and low visibility. The area will stay closed until the Reykjane police issues a notice ending the closure.

The Reykjanes Peninsula police, the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Response and local search-and-rescue teams are currently working on ways to secure the area and the paths to and from it in order to allow safe access once the weather gets better.

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