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Houses have caught fire in the fishing town of Grindavík in south-west Iceland after a volcano erupted for the second time in less than a month.

Two fissures formed near the town on Sunday after an increase in seismic activity that prompted authorities to evacuate the community the day before.

A first eruption began at 8am when a crack opened in the ground about 450 metres from the town. Protective barriers of earth and rock pushed lava from the first fissure away from the town. However, a second crack then opened around midday on the edge of town, measuring around 100 metres by the evening, with that lava engulfing the homes.

At least three houses were engulfed by fire, live images from TV broadcaster RUV showed.

Jets of glowing orange lava flowed out and a huge smoke cloud rose against the dark sky.

Iceland’s civil protection agency said it had raised its alert level to “emergency”, the highest on its three-point scale, indicating an event had started that could cause harm to people, property, communities or the environment.

The eruption is the fifth on the Reykjanes peninsula since 2021. There was a powerful volcanic eruption near Grindavík on 18 December after weeks of earthquakes. The town’s 3,800 people had already been evacuated weeks before as a precaution. More than 100 people had returned in recent weeks, but they were evacuated again on Saturday.

The Guardian