The Unpredictable Giant
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A volcano in southwestern Iceland erupted Thursday for the third time since December, prompting an evacuation from a popular touristic hotspot and cutting off hot water to thousands of residents amid freezing temperatures, the New York Times reported.
Officials said the eruption took place in the early hours of Thursday on the Reykjanes Peninsula, unleashing hot lava that flowed onto a main road and severed a crucial pipe supplying hot water from the local power plant, Svartsengi, to nearby towns.
About 31,000 residents in the area will be cut off from hot water and heating amid temperatures of 21 Fahrenheit, according to authorities.
Vidir Reynisson, the director of Iceland’s civil defense agency, warned that the eruption was producing more lava than expected and posed a significant threat to critical infrastructure in the entire peninsula.
However, local volcanologists said the lava flow had likely reached its maximum breadth, with the eruption’s intensity diminishing.
Although volcanic eruptions are common in Iceland, the Reykjanes Peninsula was dormant for about 800 years until 2021. Since then, it has witnessed a number of eruptions, including a recent one that began in mid-December.
Scientists said the threat to the peninsula will not end soon.
While Keflavik International Airport reported no disruptions to flights despite the lack of hot water, the town of Grindavik – closest to the volcano – remained empty following an evacuation after the last eruption in January, which caused significant damage.
Additionally, tourist destinations such as the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa and nearby hotels were evacuated as a precautionary measure.