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The area around the volcano has no permanent
residents but is popular with tourists and hikers
Iceland’s authorities have evacuated an area
close to the country’s Bardarbunga volcano over
fears it could erupt.

The area, which is more than 300km (190 miles) from
the capital Reykjavik, has no permanent residents but
sits within a national park popular with tourists.

The move came as geologists said about 300
earthquakes had been detected in the area since
midnight on Tuesday.

Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted in 2010,
producing an ash cloud that severely disrupted air
travel.

The national civil protection agency said the decision
to evacuate more than 300 people close to
Bardarbunga was a “precautionary” safety measure.
“It cannot be ruled out that the seismic activity in
Bardarbunga could lead to a volcanic eruption,” it added.

Iceland’s Met Office said earthquakes were
happening constantly but that the volcano was stable
for now On Monday, Iceland’s meteorological office raised its
assessment of the risk level to the aviation industry from yellow to orange.

The orange alert, the fourth level on a five-grade
scale, indicates that a volcano is showing “escalating
unrest with increased potential of eruption”.

The Bardarbunga volcanic system is located under
the north-west region of Iceland’s Vatnajokull glacier.

Authorities say any eruption in the volcano, which
sits under an ice cap, could result in flooding of the
area north of the glacier.

The volcano was said to be stable on Wednesday but
scientists warned that it is big enough to disrupt air
traffic over the Atlantic if an eruption does occur.

The Eyjafjallajokull eruption in April 2010 caused the
largest closure of European airspace since World
War Two, with losses estimated at between 1.5bn and
2.5bn euros (£1.3-2.2bn).

Criticism following the strictly enforced shutdown
resulted in the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority relaxing
its rules to allow planes to fly in areas with a low
density of volcanic ash.

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