Please Do Not Go Near the Volcanic Eruption, Iceland Asks Tourists

The authorities in Iceland on Thursday reiterated calls to tourists to avoid the site of a volcanic eruption, a spectacular show of spewing lava, after a hiker had to be rescued by helicopter earlier in the week.

The eruption occurred Monday night in Iceland’s most populated area, sending fountains of lava into the sky. The area, the Reykjanes Peninsula, had been experiencing strong seismic activity since October, leading to the evacuation last month of Grindavik, a fishing town of 3,600 people.

As soon as initial reports of the eruption emerged, tourists and locals alike started to flock to sites where they could see the glowing river of lava for themselves, even as the authorities called for people to steer clear of the area. The volume of lava has diminished since the eruption, as craters form along the 2.5 mile-long fissure.

“We recommend nobody should go,” said Jona Jonasdottir, a police officer in Keflavik. Ms. Jonasdottir said that people were trying to get close to the volcano but were turning around either because of the difficult terrain or because they were stopped by the police.

An Icelandic search and rescue team near the eruption site north of Grindavik.Credit…Marko Djurica/Reuters

Patrollers were finding people in “the strangest of places,” Eyjolfur Jonsson, a firefighter on duty at the search and rescue headquarters in Grindavik, said on Thursday. “Since the main road is closed, people embark on the hike from a range of places.”

Iceland’s meteorological service said Thursday that while the fissure seemed to have stopped spewing lava, embers were still visible in the lava bed, and it was too soon to declare the area safe.

The police warned people to “think four times” before embarking on an “extremely challenging” hike to the eruption site, which is about a 12-mile round-trip trek from the Reykjanesbraut highway. About 0.3 miles into the route, the path becomes difficult to cross because of rough lava.

“It can be assumed that it will take an experienced hiker about four to five hours to walk this route, which is not for everyone,” the police statement said. In southwestern Iceland, there were about four hours of daylight on Thursday.

The police also invoked gas pollution in the area in their statement, and even Christmas, saying, “We want emergency responders such as rescue workers to be able to stay at home during the holidays.”

The eruption site near Grindavik on Wednesday. It can take hikers hours to reach the location, in often treacherous conditions.Credit…Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A helicopter on Tuesday rescued a hiker who had become “exhausted, cold and shocked” halfway to the eruption, the police said. Hjordis Gudmundsdottir, a government spokeswoman, said the terrain near the eruption was difficult, with unstable lava and cracks hidden under snow. “As we have seen in the past, people overestimate their ability,” Ms. Gudmundsdottir said.

Emil Kara­son, a member of the search and rescue team, said that he encountered two hikers who had completed the trip early Thursday morning. Mr. Kara­son said one of the hikers, an Icelander, had been completing the trek for the second time. They were both experienced hikers and did not need help, he said, but he gave them a ride back for the last leg anyway.

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