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Eruption of Dormant Volcano Causes Panic in Iceland

March 22, 2010

A volcano in the southern part of Iceland has erupted for the first time in nearly two centuries, forcing hundreds of people to flee their homes and creating concern that a second, more destructive eruption might soon be on the way.

The eruption occurred just before midnight Saturday, local time, at the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. Officials declared a state of emergency in the area, advising residence of Hvolsvollur and Vik to evacuate, as the volcano fired ash and molten lava into the night sky.

However, according to the Associated Press (AP), scientists said the eruption was “mostly peaceful” and that there was “no imminent danger” of nearby glaciers melting and flooding the area.

That doesn’t mean the communities located near the Eyjafjallajokull volcano can rest easy just yet, as there is concern that additional eruptions could be forthcoming.

“It could stop tomorrow, it could last for weeks or months. We cannot say at this stage,” University of Iceland geologist Tumi Gudmundsson told AP writers Gudjon Helgason and Paisley Dodds on Sunday night.

“One of the possible scenarios we’re looking at is that this small eruption could bring about something bigger. This said, we can’t speculate on when that could happen,” added Pall Einarsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Science.

No injuries, fatalities, or damages have been reported as of yet, though farms and livestock in the area are likely to have been the hardest hit by the Eyjafjallajokull eruption. Domestic flights in the country were cancelled over the weekend due to the possible presence of airborne ash, though skies appeared clear and officials were expected to lift the ban on Monday.

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