Iceland volcano: Is it safe to travel right now, is Blue Lagoon closed, are tourists being told to come home?
Iceland has declared a state of emergency over fears of a volcanic eruption
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Iceland's Blue Lagoon has closed after earthquakes have triggered fears of a volcanic eruption. The country has declared a state of emergency as the nation’s most populated region remains on alert for a volcanic eruption.
Tourists were forced to evacuate the Blue Lagoon in the early hours of Thursday (November 9). The region around Mount Thorbjorn on the Reykjanes Peninsula has been dealing with hundreds of small earthquakes every day for more than two weeks.
The Icelandic Met Office has said "the situation could change quickly." So, what's happening in Iceland right now, is it safe to travel to the country, why the Blue Lagoon is closed and are tourists being told to leave? Here's everything you need to know.
What is happening in Iceland right now?
Iceland has declared a state of emergency after earthquakes raised fears of a volcanic eruption in the south west of the island that would threaten the town of Grindavik and the Blue Lagoon, Iceland's most popular tourist attraction.
Tourists were forced to evacuate the hotel spa in the early hours of Thursday (November 9). The area around Mount Thorbjorn on the Reykjanes Peninsula has been dealing with hundreds of small earthquakes every day for more than two weeks.
Scientists are closely monitoring the situation. The Icelandic Met Office said on their website: “Presently, there are no signs that earthquake activity is becoming shallower. However, the situation could change quickly, and it is not possible to exclude a scenario involving a lava-producing eruption in the area north-west of Thorbjorn.”
Iceland is one of the most active volcanic regions in the world, averaging an eruption every four to five years. In 2010, the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano caused widespread disruption across Europe after its clouds of ash led to airspace closures.
Iceland volcano: is it safe to travel to Iceland right now?
The Foreign Office is not advising people not to travel to Iceland. However, they have updated their travel advice, explaining that "Although there is no current eruption, it is possible that one could occur." They recommend that tourists should "monitor local media for updates" and "follow the authorities advice on travel to the area."
Iceland volcano: Is Blue Lagoon closed?
The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa has had to close temporarily after earthquakes put the region on high alert for a volcanic eruption. Guests rushed to leave the famous spa hotel in the early hours of Thursday (November 9), after they were woken by a magnitude 4.8 quake. The Blue Lagoon will remain closed until November 16, the company said in a statement. They have faced criticism for not closing sooner.
Iceland volcano: Tourist advice
Iceland has declared a state of emergency over concerns the Fagradalsfjall volcano, located in the south west of the island could erupt. However, tourists are not being told to evacuate or leave the country, with the UK Foreign Office not advising against travel at this time.
The US Embassy in Iceland has shared some advice for US tourists on hazards to be aware of if there is an eruption, including lava, toxic gases and heavy smoke. They advise people to not walk on new lava, as it may be a thin crust with molten lava beneath. They also advise that face masks including N95, medical or surgical masks or dust masks do not offer protection against volcanic gases.
Are flights affected?
Flights at Keflavik International Airport have not been affected yet, but the threat level is currently at orange.