Increased lava flow cut off old path
Authorities responded to the breach of the path by closing access to the volcano yesterday and launching a helicopter search for anybody who might have become stranded. The coastguard found nobody, however.
Assistant civil protection police chief Rögnvaldur Ólafsson said it is possible lava will flow from Meradalir into Nátthagi in other spots as well; possibly running over the path in other locations as well.
Rögnvaldur says conditions are being reassessed and that work is underway to expand and improve hiking trail B to the same standard as trail A was. If lava flows down Nátthagakriki, however, it could cover both paths at the point at which they separate. Then a third new path would be required to ensure access to the eruption.
The moving lava does not worry everybody, however, as pictures early on Friday afternoon from the mbl.is live webcam showed a group of visitors climbing over recently-molten rock in search of the perfect photo opportunity on Gónhóll—the former hilltop viewpoint that was cordoned off when lava ran over the path and cut it off.
Ignoring the cordon, a group of men climbed over the new rock to reach the hill. Its thin crust is very hot and covers still-molten lava beneath. The crust could easily have given way, and the consequences would have been dire.
The head of the Þorbjörn search & rescue team, Bogi Adolfsson, did not mince his words in interview with RÚV when he said that the “halfwits” broke all stupidity records. Search & rescue workers responded by heading to the site to close it off “in a more decisive manner”.
Bogi said the authorities had believed their simple safety cordon would be enough, “But now one asks oneself ‘what next?’ Get into swimwear and jump into the crater?”