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By Lennart Simonsson, dpa

REYKJAVIK — Icelandic authorities Friday lowered an aviation alert, hours after raising it to its highest level over a small lava eruption detected near a volcano in the south-east.

The concern focuses on Bardarbunga, a subglacial volcano that has been threatening activity for more than a week in the south-east.
The newest fissure eruption began after midnight in the Holuhraun lava field north of the Vatnajokull glacier, the civil defense authority said.

“No ash has been detected on radar systems,” spokeswoman Bergthora Nyala at the National Crisis Coordination Centre told dpa.

The fissure was estimated to be 1 kilometer long. The lava was flowing outside the glacier in the lava field.

The orange alert designation is the second-highest, meaning that the volcano “shows heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of an eruption.”

The civil defense authority remained at emergency level due to the ongoing eruption.

All the country’s airports remained open and there were no restrictions for international or national air traffic, Nyala said.

The radius of the restricted air traffic zone around the eruption site was reduced to 3 nautical miles and covers airspace up to an altitude of 5,000 feet, the Icelandic Transport Authority said.

A similar red alert was issued August 23, but researchers later revised their findings and the alert level was lowered to the second highest-level, orange, on Sunday.

During the past two weeks, seismic activity has increased considerably and several powerful earthquakes have been registered at the volcano.

A 2010 eruption of a volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier disrupted air travel for several weeks. Tourism to Iceland, which has about 30 active volcanoes, was also affected.

Areas north of the Vatnajokull glacier have earlier been evacuated and roads leading into the highlands area have been closed amid fears that an eruption could melt the glacier, causing severe flooding.

AFP Photo/Arni Saeberg

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