The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Iceland Lowers Alert Over Lava Eruption Near Bardarbunga Volcano

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

Interested in world news? Sign up for our daily email newsletter!

Sweden To Investigate Israeli Boarding Of Gaza-Bound Vessels

By Lennart Simonsson, dpa

STOCKHOLM — Swedish prosecutors launched an investigation Thursday into whether laws were broken in 2010 and 2012 when Israeli soldiers boarded pro-Palestinian vessels shipping humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel had not received any official communication from Sweden on the investigation, and had not been asked for cooperation in the investigation.

The raids affected 22 Swedish nationals on board the vessels, including author Henning Mankell, known for his best-selling crime novels.
Prosecutor Henrik Attorps said the preliminary investigation centered on allegations of aggravated assault, illegal threats, and failure to protect civilians affected by armed conflict — as stipulated under the Geneva Convention — as well as theft.

Allegations of hijacking or unlawful detention were not being investigated, he said.

No suspects have been identified, the Prosecution Authority said, adding that government approval would be necessary if formal charges were to be presented.

The complaint over the Israeli military’s actions — which occurred in international waters and therefore falls under international law — was filed in November 2013 by the activist group Ship to Gaza and almost two dozen Swedish nationals.

“We are happy, and it’s about time since the first crime took place four years ago,” said Dror Feiler, a spokesman for Ship to Gaza, which is part of the Freedom Flotilla which aims to raise awareness by breaking Israel’s sea blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israel has imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip since 2006. The coastal enclave, home to some 1.5 million Palestinians, is ruled by the Hamas militant group, which Israel considers a terrorist organization.

The blockade was eased in 2010 after eight Turkish passengers and one U.S. citizen were killed during a raid to stop a flotilla bound for Gaza. The incident drew international condemnation and strained Israel’s ties with former ally Turkey.

Some of the Swedish nationals who filed the complaint were on other vessels in the 2010 flotilla.

Others were on the Finnish-flagged Estelle that was intercepted in October 2012. Its cargo included 41 tons of cement, medical equipment, children’s books, musical instruments, and 300 soccer balls.

The activists were deported after questioning.

Photo: Acroll via Flickr

Interested in world news? Sign up for our daily email newsletter!