• Short Summary

    On Friday (23 March) an avalanche of volcanic lava engulfed part of the Icelandic town of Haimaey.

  • Description

    On Friday (23 March) an avalanche of volcanic lava engulfed part of the Icelandic town of Haimaey. After a further eruption of the Kirkjufell volcano, which began two months ago, a 30-foot high (10 m) wall of lava streamed on to Heimay wrecking 70 houses in it's path.

    The small island of Haimaey is one of Icelands main fishing ports. What was once a beautiful natural harbour has now been ruined by the lake flow. The harbour entrance has been almost blocked.

    Since the Kirkjufell first erupted, teams of workers have fought to halt the lake flow by constantly pumping sea water on to it. But Poisonous gasses pouring from rifts in the molten rock have been a constant threat to rescue workers.

    Most of the island's 5,500 inhabitants are seeking refuge on the Icelandic mainland, and it may be some time before they will be able to return to their homes. Although workers have fought hard to stop the lava reaching houses, schools, hospitals and churches, this latest advance has rendered the situation hopeless. The government has stated that no more money will be spent on the rescue operation to save Haimaey.

    SYNOPSIS: On Friday a thirty foot high wall of volcanic lava engulfed seventy houses in Haimaey, the small island fishing port off the Icelandic mainland. Pouring out of the mouth of the Kirkjufell volcano, the two hundred and fifty yard wide stream of lava totally wrecked the houses and their contents.

    Workers tried to enter the wrecked homes to salvage what little they could.

    The volcano first erupted two months ago, forcing most of the five thousand, five hundred inhabitants to flee to the safety of the Icelandic-mainland. Since that time teams of rescue workers have constantly fought to half the continuous lava flow. They met with some success when they slowed down the lava flow by cooling it with sea water.

    Friday's eruption has now dashed all hope of keeping the lava at bay, and saving the town. What little remains is not worth saving. Rescue workers have been hampered by the poisonous gasses which escape from rifts in the lava flow. Houses are now left to burn themselves out.

    Lying just off the Icelandic mainland, the small island of Haimaey is one of Iceland's main fishing ports. Now, with the lava flow continuing to silt up the natural harbour, and much of the town destroyed, the disaster is almost total. Iceland's government has now abandoned the rescue of Haimaey.

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    Film ID:
    Media URN:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Issue Date:
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Black & White
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