Home for the Holidays: Grindavík Welcomes Back Residents

Grindavík - Þorbjörn

Beginning tomorrow, December 23, Grindavík residents will be allowed to return and stay overnight in town. Following the subsidence of the volcanic eruption near Sýlingafell, the authorities have decided to downgrade the alert status in Grindavík from an Emergency Phase to a Danger Phase.

Christmas after all

Beginning tomorrow, December 23 (The Mass of St. Thorlac, i.e. Þorláksmessa), the residents of Grindavík are permitted to enter and even stay overnight in the town, Vísir reports. Christmas in Grindavík will, therefore, be celebrated after all, at least by those Grindavík residents who wish to do so. This was noted in an announcement from the Police Commissioner of Suðurnes. The situation will be reassessed on December 27. 

The statement also notes that starting from December 23, roadblocks will be established on Grindavíkurvegur, Nesvegur, and Suðurstrandarvegur. These measures allow Grindavík residents, business owners, and their employees to bypass the roadblocks at any time and permit overnight stays within the town. However, access beyond these roadblocks is currently restricted to unrelated individuals, while major media outlets are granted passage.

Alert status lowered to Danger

As noted by Vísir, experts from the Icelandic MET Office at 9.30 AM today to review the latest data. At 1:00 PM, the MET Office held another meeting with the Police Commissioner in Suðurnes and the Commissioner of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management.

Based on the latest risk assessment map from the Icelandic MET Office, Grindavík still faces a significant risk of natural disasters. Following indications that the volcanic eruption near Sundhnúkagígar, which started on December 18, has ceased, the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, in consultation with the Police Commissioner of Suðurnes, has opted to lower the alert status from an Emergency Phase to a Danger Phase.

Grindavík Homecoming Unlikely in the Near Term

Photo from the mandatory evacuation of Grindavík in Reykajnes

The town of Grindavík has suffered significant earthquake damage, impacting homes and infrastructure. The Head of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management told reporters yesterday that the ongoing uncertainty regarding a possible eruption means that it is unlikely that Grindavík residents will be able to return to their homes in the near future.

More damage than expected

The town of Grindavík, on the Reykjanes peninsula, was succesfully evacuated during the early hours of Saturday, November 12, amid concerns that the intrusion of magma, believed to extend beneath the town, would reach the surface. An emergency phase was declared, and the Red Cross set up three emergency relief centres.

The quakes continued into Saturday. By Sunday, it was clear that major damage being inflicted on the the town, affecting houses, roads, and infrastructure. “The town has suffered extensive damage,” Úlfar Lúðvíksson, Chief of Police in Suðurnes, told RÚV during the evening news yesterday.

Parts of the town have been without hot water and electricity owing to damage to the distribution system of the HS Veitur utility company. Large parts of Grindavík have been too hazardous to enter, and HS Veitur has not allowed its employees to venture into those areas for repairs.

New assessment expected tomorrow

A new assessment from the Icelandic Meteorological Office is awaited and expected to be published tomorrow. The new assessment will provide a clearer picture of the situation, including whether the magma is still rising and how close it has risen to the surface.

Seismic activity has, however, significantly decreased since Friday and Saturday. “There is nothing to suggest that there will be a significant eruption,” Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson, a professor of geophysics, told reporters yesterday, noting that he believes the likelihood of an undersea eruption has diminished.

Unlikely that residents can return soon

Despite a decrease in seismic activity, it is unlikely that Grindavík residents will be able to return to their homes in the near future – even if a volcanic eruption does not occur in the next few days.

Víðir Reynisson, Department Manager of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, told RÚV yesterday that events were still unfolding, and even if seismic activity continued over the two weeks without an eruption, the evacuation would remain in effect: “Even if the activity completely stops, and scientists believe that this event is over, it will take some time before we can be certain that this activity will not pick up again. Only then will residents be allowed to return home,” Víðir explained.

Víðir also noted that if an eruption occurs that is far from Grindavík, the evacuation would continue to be in place; such an eruption could last for some time.

Admitted into the safest neighbourhood

Residents of the Þórkötlustaðahverfi neighbourhood in Grindavík, in the easternmost part of town, were afforded a brief window (ca. 5 minutes) to retrieve their belongings and pets yesterday. One resident, having received help from two Keflavík residents, managed to retrieve 66 animals: 35 sheep, 20 hens, and a cat.

The organisation Dýrfinna has collected information about animals left behind in Grindavík, which include 58 cats, 2 rabbits, 2 hamsters, 49 horses, 50 chickens, 13 parrots, 130 pigeons, 204 sheep, and 15,000 chickens. Despite hoping that they would be allowed to enter Grindavík to rescue pets, the authorities refused to admit anyone into the town, aside from residents of the Þórkötlustaðahverfi neighbourhood.

Decisions made tomorrow morning

Once a new risk assessment is available tomorrow morning, a decision will be made regarding the next steps. “We are doing what we can to accommodate the people of Grindavík, allowing them to access essential items in their homes,” Úlfar Lúðvíksson told RÚV yesterday.

Gylfi Sigurðsson Likely to Return to International Football Tonight

Gylfi Sigurðsson football Icelandic national team

Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson is set to play his first international match in three years. In an interview with Vísir, the footballer confessed that he had been uncertain whether he would return to football, and by extension, the national team.

Exciting times ahead

Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson is likely to play his first international match in three years tonight. In an interview with Vísir yesterday, he expressed his excitement about playing for the national team again

“It’s quite enjoyable. Fantastic. It’s fun to be in this routine with the guys at the hotel. To have meetings and practice. Just being around the team. There’s a great atmosphere around the group and exciting times ahead for the team,” Gylfi Þór said in a conversation with Guðmundur Benediktsson.

As noted by Vísir, the past years have been tough for Gylfi; the Office of the Crown Prosecutor in the UK dropped charges against the footballer in April after he had been the subject of a police investigation since July, 2021. When asked if he expected to play for the national team again, Gylfi replied thusly:

“Yes and no. No, because I wasn’t sure if I would continue to play football. Therefore, I didn’t expect to play for Iceland again. But yes, after I decided to continue in football and give it another shot, I totally expected it.”

Aiming for the national goalscoring record

It’s been some time since Gylfi scored his last goal for the team. Over the course of his career, he has netted 25 goals, one shy of the national record of 26. He hopes to reach this milestone in the future.

“Of course, that’s my aim – and it has been my goal for many years. Kolli [Kolbeinn Sigþórsson] and Eiður [Guðjohnsen] hold the record, so it’s extra significant for me. Especially because of Eiður, who was my role model when I was younger. It will make it even sweeter for me if I achieve it.”

The men’s national team in football squares off against Luxembourg at the Laugardalur stadium in Reykjavík tonight at 18:45.

Gylfi Sigurðsson Returns to National Football Team

Footballer

Åge Hareide has announced the squad for Iceland’s upcoming UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying matches, with Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson returning after a nearly three-year absence, Vísir reports. Iceland will face Luxembourg on October 13 and Liechtenstein on October 16.

Gylfi Þór returns, Jóhann Berg absent

Åge Hareide, the head coach of the Icelandic men’s national football team, has unveiled the squad for the upcoming matches in the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying tournament, which includes two home fixtures against Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, Vísir reports.

The former captain, Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson, now playing with Lyngby in the Danish Superliga, makes his return to the national team after a near three-year absence; Gylfi’s last appearance for Iceland was on November 15, 2020, in a match against Denmark at Parken.

In an interview with Vísir today, Hareide stated: “I have spoken with him a few times. Gylfi is one of Iceland’s best players from the beginning. He got injured recently but is already feeling much better. I want to have him around us; he is very important to us. I want to integrate him into our plans with the national team. He will have a very good and strong impact on us.”

The roster also sees the inclusion of Aron Einar Gunnarsson, despite a hiatus from football in recent months, and Andri Lucas Guðjohnsen, who earned a recall to the national team following commendable performances with Lyngby. Conversely, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, a player for the English Premier League club Burnley, missed out on selection, likely due to injury concerns.

Iceland is set to kick off their campaign against Luxembourg at Laugardalsvöllur on October 13, followed by a clash with Liechtenstein three days later. Iceland currently sits in fourth place in the J group with six points after six rounds have been played. Their most recent outings concluded with a 3-1 defeat to Luxembourg on foreign soil and a 1-0 triumph over Bosnia & Herzegovina at home.