STOCKHOLM Aug 20 Iceland's civil protection
agency has decided to evacuate an area north of the country's
Bardarbunga volcano, saying it could not rule out an eruption.
The move came after authorities on Monday warned airlines
about increased seismic activity at Iceland's largest volcanic
system. Ash from the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull
volcano in 2010 shut down much of Europe's airspace for six
"This decision is a safety measure," the agency said on its
website late on Tuesday. "It cannot be ruled out that the
seismic activity in Bardarbunga could lead to a volcanic
All roads leading into the mostly uninhabited area were
closed earlier in the week. Park rangers who live there during
the summer and tourists are now being evacuated.
Authorities say the area north of the glacier risks being
hit by floods as an eruption in the volcano, which is under the
ice cap of the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland, would
melt vast amounts of ice.
Einar Einarsson, a meteorologist at Iceland's Met Office,
said earthquakes were happening practically every minute and
seismic activity was constant.
"The fact that it is constant in motion and depth is
probably good news," he said. "It doesn't seem to vary a lot -
it is concentrated in one area under the glacier."
The Icelandic Met Office on Monday raised its risk level to
the aviation industry for an eruption to orange, which is the
fourth level on a five-grade scale, after confirming magma
movements less than 10 km (6 miles) from the surface.
The Vatnajokull National Park is more than 300 km from the
capital Reykjavik and covers 14 percent of Iceland.
The 2010 eruption at Eyjafjallajokull, a little over 100 km
from the capital, affected more than 10 million air travellers
and cost $1.7 billion.
(Reporting by Mia Shanley, editing by Anna Ringstrom)