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Iceland volcano: Gas pollution possible in capital, lava flows over roads

Two people stand near a lava field formed after a volcanic eruption, near Hagafell in the Reykjanes Peninsula, in southwestern Iceland, on March 17. A new eruption near the same area caused evacuations this week. File Photo by Anton Brink/EPA-EFE
Two people stand near a lava field formed after a volcanic eruption, near Hagafell in the Reykjanes Peninsula, in southwestern Iceland, on March 17. A new eruption near the same area caused evacuations this week. File Photo by Anton Brink/EPA-EFE

May 30 (UPI) -- Officials in Iceland warned that gas pollution could take place in the nation's capital Thursday amid the latest volcanic eruption.

The Icelandic Met Office said wind direction was expected to shift to the southwest, sending potential pollution toward Reykjavik as lava flow spilled over main roads on Wednesday with its eruptive fissure now stretching nearly 1½ miles.

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Lava flowed over Grindavik Road and Nesvegur Road on Wednesday as it moved south and west toward the Porbjorn mountain. Another lava lobe north of Sylingafell flowed to the west, officials said.

The Met Office said the steam explosions have increased with the magma reaches Iceland's shores.

"The magma causes the water to be quickly converted into [a] gaseous state [steam], causing steam explosions and [ash] fall," the office said. "There is considerable uncertainty regarding the amount of gases from the eruption site."

Hazard assessments in Svartsengi and north of Svartengi had been upgraded to "red" because of the lava flow and gas pollution possibility increasing.

Evacuations in southwestern Iceland have been underway as the volcano began eruption since Wednesday since the eruption of Mount Sylingarfellon on the Reykjanes peninsula. It is the eighth eruption in the last three years and the fifth in the last six months.

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More than 140 earthquakes were measured in the area before the eruption. The popular tourist location the Blue Lagoon was evacuated along with other areas in Grindavik this week because of the volcano.

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