As fears of a volcanic eruption grow in Iceland, residents of a small Icelandic village have been forced to flee their homes and leave their animals behind.
More than 4,000 residents in Grindavík fled with few personal belongings when the warnings were issued – but were furious when they weren’t allowed to bring their pets with them.
It comes as a state of emergency has been declared across Iceland after a series of intense earthquakes has spread magma underneath the earth’s surface.
Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula had been dormant to volcanic activity for 800 years before a 2021 eruption – but it’s trembling once again.
And a post on Facebook from Iceland’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management about evacuations has infuriated animal lovers.
The post read: ‘The chief of police in Suðurnes has decided that livestock and domestic animals are not rescued from a defined danger zone due to the earthquakes in Reykjanes, at the moment.’
After intense outrage from pet owners and others, the department quickly said it would allow residents to collect pets and essential belongings.
They said: ‘This is not an easy decision. This comes with risks and therefore it is very important that everyone involved in it carefully obeys all the instructions of the police that directs this operation and respects the deadlines that will be set.’
Despite the backtrack on their original statement, many locals and others abroad are furious about the decision.
‘Volunteers could be sent to places where there are animals, and remove them. The common citizen is second in hovering. But it’s not cool to leave the animals behind, and the nation will remember that later,’ one said.
Another added: ‘It’s not good that the animals could starve or burn inside.’
Initial reports have indicated that the few families allowed back in to retrieve their animals were successful – though many pets and livestock remain unaccounted for, according to the Iceland Review.
But the entire town of Grindavík could be destroyed, as the Icelandic Met Office revealed that the eruption could last for weeks.
A spokesperson said: ‘This would be a lava-producing volcanic eruption along a series of fissures and that would be the main hazard.
‘An eruption that persists for weeks is possible and that means roads and other forms of infrastructure could be eventually in harm’s way.’
Videos coming out of the danger zone have revealed extensive damage to roads near the town of Grindavík.
And the famous Blue Lagoon landmark is closed due to an increase in seismic activity in the area – with more than 20,000 tremors recorded in southwest Iceland since late October.
Those travelling to Iceland are advised to check with the Icelandic Met Office, Safe Travel Iceland and Almannavarnadeild Facebook page for the latest updates regarding the volcanic eruption.
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