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Evacuations 'going well' as volcanic eruption underway in Iceland

Multiple Icelandic volcanic eruptions have been happening since Dec.

By Chris Benson
Image taken with a drone showing lava flow after January's volcanic eruption near the town of Grindavik, in the Reykjanes peninsula, southwestern Iceland. Another eruption in the same area began Wednesday morning. Photo Provided By Anton Brink/EPA-EFE
1 of 2 | Image taken with a drone showing lava flow after January's volcanic eruption near the town of Grindavik, in the Reykjanes peninsula, southwestern Iceland. Another eruption in the same area began Wednesday morning. Photo Provided By Anton Brink/EPA-EFE

May 29 (UPI) -- Evacuations in southwestern Iceland have been underway as a volcano began erupting Wednesday in the island nation.

The volcanic eruption northeast of Mt. Sylingarfellon on the Reykjanes peninsula is the eighth in the last three years and the fifth in the last six months

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The commissioner of the Icelandic Police has initiated a flight code red for the time being to get more details on the flow of volcanic ash, while an Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter confirms the exact size and location of the ongoing eruption.

Heavy lava flow is moving south of Stora-Scogfell approaching Grindavikurveg. The crater is estimated to be over 8,200 feet long with jets reaching approximately 164 feet high

In the last two days roughly 140 earthquakes had been detected prior to the eruption. "Intense seismic activity" was detected on the Sundhnukur crater row earlier on Wednesday.

Evacuations were executed after sirens went off in Grindavík, with a population of about 3,600, and the Blue Lagoon, a popular tourist destination.

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"There are few residents in town, but there are quite a few people at work, mainly in the harbor area, and we are gathering those people from the town," Hjalmar Hallgrimsson, a local police officer, said Wednesday morning local time before the eruption took place.

An estimated 800 people were put in an operational area, according to reports.

"And it is going well," Hallgrimsson said.

Authorities in March had previously evacuated the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal pool and the nearby fishing town of Grindavik after the most recent volcano eruption.

A volcano in Iceland's Southern Peninsula region in January erupted for the second time in a month, creating cracks in the ground and unleashing massive lava flows that forced the evacuation of a nearby fishing town, which was followed by a third eruption in early February on Iceland's Reykjanes peninsula.

The popular Blue Lagoon geothermal spa in nearby Svartsengi was closed through Dec. 27 of last year after a volcanic eruption.

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