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Sightseers get festival vibe at Iceland’s dramatic lava show

Thousands of Icelanders are flocking to see a volcano which is continuing to spew lava since it started to erupt more than a week ago.

Since the eruption on March 19, tourists, scientists and photographers have hiked to the site on the Reykjanes Peninsula, some 30 kilometres southwest of the capital, to be awed by the rare lava fountains.

The volcano has become a welcome distraction from the COVID pandemic for many and some have have visited it several times.

“It feels like a music festival here to have so many people around so. I love how many people are here,” said adventure guide and business woman Eyrun Lydia Saevarsdottir who has been to the volcano three times already.

Photographer Gunnar Freyr said the volcano was what people needed to forget about the pandemic.

“After 2020 it’s kind of unreal really to be around so many people at one time.. It’s a really nice experience to have this kind of social vibe and it makes you forget about the whole pandemic,” he said.

To cope with the flood of visitors, authorities have set up a 3.5 kilometre (2.2 miles) hiking trail to the eruption site and are patrolling the area to prevent onlookers from going into hazardous areas polluted by volcanic gases.

A long queue of cars has become a normal sight on the road which leads to the volcano.

Volcanologists have no idea how long the free show will continue, saying it could stop soon or continue for years, possibly even decades.

(Production: Cat Gundry-Beck, Ilze Filks, Michael Fiorentino)



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