Flights were suspended following a huge volcanic eruption in Iceland, with molten lava creating a spectacular red sky visible for miles.
The Icelandic Meteorological Bureau said eruptions have started in Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes Peninsula near Reykjavik after thousands of tremors in recent days.
All air traffic at Keflavik International Airport was then suspended.
Locals are reportedly on standby in case they need to evacuate and police have urged people to stay away.
A helicopter with scientific staff had been messed up to assess the extent of the outbreak.
The volcano on Mount Fagradalsfjall is a seismic hotspot that has seen more than 40,000 earthquakes since February 24 – more than all of last year.
Are you in the area affected by the outbreak? E-mail [email protected]
The Icelandic police said on Twitter: “We ask people to remain calm and under no circumstances approach the site of the eruption or the Reykjanes bride.
“First responders need to be able to drive freely to assess the situation. Scientists are working on assessing the outbreak.”
The source of the earthquakes of the past few weeks is a large body of molten rock known as magma that moves about a kilometer below the peninsula, trying to find its way to the surface.
“We have never seen so much seismic activity,” Sara Barsotti, volcanic hazard coordinator at the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), told Reuters earlier this week.
Some of these quakes reached a magnitude of up to 5.7.
Tonight the office posted on Twitter: “The volcanic eruption has started in Fagradalsfjall.”
Icelandic authorities warned of an impending volcanic eruption on the peninsula earlier this month – but didn’t say it would disrupt international air traffic or damage critical infrastructure.
In 2010, around 900,000 flights were halted and hundreds were evicted from their homes following a massive outbreak nearby.
Experts expect lava to erupt from cracks in the ground, potentially leading to spectacular lava fountains that could stretch for 20 to 100 meters in the air.
Last year the authorities put together an emergency plan for the region. One option is to put locals on boats in the North Atlantic when an outbreak blocks the roads.