Local students flee volcano terror

Monday 3pm TERRIFIED Caistor Grammar School children had to be evacuated as a volcano erupted for the first time in almost 200 years close to where they were staying during a geography field trip


The 30 students and three members of staff were staying in Iceland when the volcano near the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier began to erupt shortly after midnight on Sunday, March 21.

It was the first volcanic eruption in the Scandanavian island since 2004 and the first in the region of the glacier since 1823. Hundreds of local people living nearby also had to flee as fears were raised lava would fill the valley. There have been no immediate reports of damage or injury to local residents.

Deputy head teacher Eddie Cook, contacted the school to say the group was safe and well and able to fly home as scheduled. "New accommodation was been found for the group in a designated safe area of the country," a school spokesperson said.

The Icelandic authorities warned on Monday of increased disturbance in the area of the volcanic eruption.

"Police have increased surveillance in the whole area around the Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull glaciers because of increased disturbance this morning in the volcanic eruption," the police and civil protection department said in a statement.

Visitors were further advised of danger in travelling or driving in the vicinity of the volcanic area and some of the area's roads have been closed.

Experts say an 800 metre fissure caused by the eruption was getting larger and heading towards the Myrdalsjokull glacier, which sits on top of the powerful Katla volcano. Authorities initially said the eruption was below the glacier, triggering fears it could lead to flooding from glacier melt, but scientists conducting an aerial survey in daylight, located the eruption and said it did not occur below ice.

"The eruption is a small one," said Agust Gunnar Gylfason, a risk analyst at the Civil Protection Department.

"An eruption in and close to this glacier can be dangerous due to possible flooding if the fissure forms under the glacier." Scientists can see lava flows in the half-mile long fissure, and authorities are watching for further activity.

A state of emergency has been declared in communities near the 100 square mile glacier, and three Red Cross centres were set up for evacuees in the village of Hella.

The Icelandic Civil Aviation Administration has ordered aircraft to stay 120 nautical miles away from the volcano area, essentially closing it off.

Keflavik international airport, Reykjavik airport and Akureyri airport are all closed due to the possibility of ash getting into engines of the planes. The only airport that is open is Egilsstadir airport in the eastern part of the country as a back up international airport.

A European volcanic island in the North Atlantic, Iceland is largely an arctic desert with mountains, glaciers and volcanoes and agricultural areas in the lowlands close to the coastline.

Caistor Grammar School students were studying glaciers and volcanos. They were woken by the owner of the guesthouse they stayed in and boarded onto a bus. They were staying at a hotel in Reykjavik, the capital, until being flown tomorrow (Tuesday).