British woman visiting her partner in Iceland films earthquake

British woman, 34, visiting her partner in Iceland captures shocking moment earthquake causes his house to SHAKE – as locals frantically evacuated amid volcanic eruption fears are allowed to return home ‘for 15 minutes’ to gather pets and essentials

  • Caitlin McLean, 34, was visiting her boyfriend, Gisli Gunnarsson, 29, in Iceland
  • But they were forced to evacuate due to an earthquake which hit the area 

A British woman who was visiting her partner in Iceland filmed the shocking moment an earthquake caused his house to shake as locals frantically evacuated the area.

Caitlin McLean, from Scotland, was visiting her boyfriend, Gisli Gunnarsson, 29, in Grindavik when they were forced to flee his home at midnight on Friday.

Ms McLean, 34, captured the moment the furniture and light fixtures shook violently in Mr Gunnarsson’s home as they rushed to pack essential items.

Police evacuated Grindavik after seismic activity in the area moved south towards the town, with a corridor of magma, or semi-molten rock, now thought to be extending under the community, Iceland’s Meteorological Office said.

Locals in the area were given just 15 minutes to return and gather their pets and essentials after they evacuated their homes.

Pictured: Caitlin McLean and Gisli Gunnarsson, who were forced to evacuate

Lava spurts after the eruption of a volcano in the Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland, July 12, 2023

Mr Gunnarsson, a music composer, said: ‘At around four on Friday, (the earthquakes) just started being non-stop. Just constant big quakes for hours.

‘First and foremost, the thought that you might never see your hometown ever again, that’s tough.

READ MORE – Is it safe to travel to Iceland amid volcanic eruption fears? 

‘We all rushed out of (Grindavik) so quickly, in a matter of hours, so we didn’t really think at the time that might possibly be the last time we see our home, so that’s been difficult.

‘It’s a pretty grim situation at the moment.’

Residents who fled their homes were allowed back ‘quickly’ to collect the bare essentials.

Civil Defence were awaiting a risk assessment but were able to let a small number of Grindavík locals back into their homes.

The people were allowed to collect their things for between fifteen to 30 minutes, accompanied by responders, one street at a time.

Many pets were left behind in the evacuation, so this plan allowed owners to bring their beloved animals to safety. 

Ms McLean, an artist, added that the situation has been ‘difficult’ for people to understand.

She said: ‘I think it’s difficult for the residents to really process that.

Emergency workers outside Grindavik on November 12, 2023 in Grindavik, Iceland

Children bring food to police and emergency workers outside Grindavik on November 12

The town of Grindavik is around 25 miles southwest of Reykjavik

‘I think everyone’s still a wee bit shocked and it’s not really sinking in there is a possibility they’re not going to be able to go home.’

READ MORE – Moment TV interview with Iceland mayor is interrupted by earthquake

Ms McLean has urged volcano enthusiasts to avoid the area and ‘be respectful’ to people whose homes have been affected.

She said: ‘I would definitely say there’s been quite a lot of people wanting to fly over (to Iceland), like people that are interested in volcanoes and lava.

‘They’re trying to keep tourists away because there’s been people already trying to fly drones over the town.

‘I understand for a lot of people this is a big spectacle, but these people are losing their homes potentially, so just to be respectful.’

Mr Gunnarsson said the earthquakes on Friday were the worst he has experienced.

He said: ‘Not even the search and rescue are really going (to the town) at the moment.

Iceland is in nationwide panic over the fear of a possible volcanic eruption

The country has felt a seismic swarm over the past two weeks with locals forced to evacuate

The nation declared a state of emergency and 4,000 people were evacuated overnight

‘The uncertainty is too high and it’s ready to pop at any moment, the eruption.’

The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, one of Iceland’s biggest tourist attractions, said on Thursday it would close until November 16 due to the risk of an eruption.

Iceland declared a state of emergency on Friday after a series of earthquakes rocked the country’s southwestern Reykjanes peninsula. 

The mayor of Grindavik Fannar Jónasson was giving a live interview to Icelandic TV when he was interrupted by a tremor.

READ MORE – Map reveals Iceland earthquake locations as experts warn volcano could erupt within ‘hours or days’ 

Mr Jónasson was speaking to news outlet Fréttastofa RÚV on Friday, November 10 when suddenly the camera began to shake.

He stopped mid-sentence and the building in the background could also be seen shaking.

Nearly 800 quakes were recorded between midnight and 2pm on Friday with the shallowest depth at between 1.86 to 2.18miles, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said.

A magma tunnel that is forming could reach Grindavik but the Icelandic authority said it has been impossible to tell if and where the magma might break through to the surface.

Magma is a mixture of molten and semi-molten rock found beneath the surface of the Earth that can cause an eruption when it comes to the surface, becoming lava.

The Civil Protection Agency said: ‘Earthquakes may become bigger than those that have already occurred, and this sequence of events could lead to an eruption.

‘However, there are still no signs that the magma is nearing the surface. Its progress is being closely monitored.

‘We want to reiterate that residents MUST evacuate their homes and leave the town. 

‘But we also want to reiterate that this is not an emergency evacuation, there is plenty of time to prepare, secure things and drive out of town calmly.

Mayor of Grindavik Fannar Jónasson was giving a live TV interview when a tremor hit

A huge fissure in the ground in the area of Grindavik following hundreds of earthquakes

Mount Fagradalsfjall volcano spews lava after an eruption in Reykjavik, Iceland

‘It is clear that we are dealing with events that we Icelanders have not experienced before, at least not since the eruption in Vestmannaeyjar. We faced that together, we will face this together and we will not lose heart.’

The UK Foreign Office has warned the public that a volcanic eruption is increasingly likely.

The official statement read: ‘Earthquakes and indications of volcanic activity have increased above normal levels on the Reykjanes peninsula, southwest of Reykjavik.

‘The Icelandic authorities continue to monitor the area closely, particularly the area northwest of Mt Thorbjörn near the Svartsengi power plant and the Blue Lagoon.

‘On 10 November, a Civil Protection Alert was declared after an intense swarm of earthquakes.

‘The town of Grindavík was evacuated as a precaution. Some roads have been closed and visitors are advised to stay away from the area.

‘Keflavik International Airport is operating as normal. While there is no current eruption, it is increasingly possible that one could occur.’

Since airlines and holiday companies will continue as normal, travellers should not expect to change their plans.

But the UK foreign office has warned travellers that ‘no travel can be guaranteed safe’.

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