Rescuers Missing in Volcanic Explosion
Feb. 29, 2000 -- At least seven people were reported
missing on Monday near Iceland's erupting Mt. Hekla Volcano after thousands
of motorists ignored authorities' warnings and drove to the area to view the
explosions. Three of the missing, snowboarders who assisted in the
rescue efforts, were found later in the day.
More than 2,000 people were left stranded in their cars
after leaving the capital Reykjavik to drive 75 miles to the east to watch
the specacular eruption.
The cars were trapped in heavy snowdrifts, leaving most
people to spend the night awaiting rescue crews. Ragnar Stefansson, a
geophysicist from the Icelandic Metorological Office, reported that the
severe weather had made it almost impossible to see the volcano.
Officials warned that volcanic ash could clog car engine
air intakes and that the gases being emitted from the earth near the foot of
the volcano were posionous.
Volcanic ash began to drift toward Britain's northern
Shetland and Orkney Islands on Monday, but officials said it posed no
A spokesman from the Metorological Office reported that
pilots had been advised to avoid a section of North Atlantic air-space where
the ash was located.
Icelandic Volcano Explodes
Feb. 28, 2000 -- Iceland's Mount Hekla Volcano exploded
on Sunday after having been inactive for more than nine years, spewing
columns of steam and ash up to four miles high. Witnesses reported
that numerous fountains of lava encircling the fissure illuminated the
Scientists first detected movement on Saturday in Hekla,
which last erupted in 1991. Poor weather conditions on Sunday impeded
assessment of the eruptions, but geologist Ragnar Adalsteinsson from the
Metorological Office said they could continue for as long as a month.
Authorities said the volcano, which is located in the
southwest region of the island nation, posed no danger as lava was flowing
into an area of uninhabited plains about 74 miles east of Reykjavik.
Flights were redirected around the 4,892-foot volcano, which is one of the
highest in Europe.
Mediaeval Icelandic folklore depicts Hekla as being a
gate to purgatory and a meeting place for covens of witches