Iceland has declared a state of emergency after a series of powerful earthquakes prompted fears over possible volcanic erruptions.
The country’s southwestern Reykjanes penninsula was hit by the quakes. It has meant the chances of an erruption in the region has been increased.
The country’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management said: “The National police chief … declares a state of emergency for civil defence due to the intense earthquake (activity) at Sundhnjukagigar, north of Grindavik.
“Earthquakes can become larger than those that have occurred and this series of events could lead to an eruption.”
The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) said there was a chance an erruption could take place in “several days”. Home to around 3,000 people, the village of Grindavik is located 1.86 miles (3km) south-west of the area where Friday’s earthquake swarm was registered.
It reportedly has an evacuation plan in place in case of an erruption. At about 5.30pm, two strong earthquakes were felt as far as the capital, Reykjavik, around 40km away.
It was felt along much of Iceland’s southern coast, causing windows and household objects to shake. The biggest tremor, north of Grindavik, had a magnitude of 5.2, according to preliminary IMO figures.
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There have been 24,000 tremors reported for the penninsula since late October. The IMO reported nearly 800 quakes registered between midnight and 2pm on Friday.
It said: “The most likely scenario is that it will take several days rather than hours for magma to reach the surface. If a fissure were to appear where the seismic activity is at its highest now, lava would flow to the south-east and to the west, but not towards Grindavik.”
The Blue Lagoon, located near Grindavik and famed for its geothermal spas and luxury hotels, closed on Thursday in case of another earthquake swarm.