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Huge search for man who fell into crack that opened in Grindavik after Iceland earthquakes

A rescue worker stares into the middle of Grindavik crack  (REUTERS)
A rescue worker stares into the middle of Grindavik crack (REUTERS)

A manhunt has been launched after a worker fell into an enormous crack created by the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in Iceland.

The missing man was working to fill in crevasses formed by earthquakes and volcanic activity in the fishing town of Grindavik when he fell on Wednesday, according to local media.

The search, involving hundreds of rescue workers, had to be called off overnight on Thursday after landslides dropped tonnes of rocks on the area.

The volcano erupted in December after hundreds of earthquakes (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
The volcano erupted in December after hundreds of earthquakes (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

“At midnight, we had to stop the search because we could not guarantee the safety of those who were working down in the crevasse,” Ulfar Ludviksson, the police chief in South Iceland said. “There was a rockfall at the top.”

“It’s deep down. This runs tens of metres down to the bottom. There is water far below this work area where rescuers are working,” he said.

“There are two men who go down in a basket and stay down for about 10 minutes. Then they come up and the other two take over.”

The missing man was being lowered to work on filling cracks in town with soil and compacting before he fell.

A fissure in Grindavik spewing lava (AP)
A fissure in Grindavik spewing lava (AP)
Scientist of the University of Iceland take measurements and samples standing on the ridge in front of the active part of the eruptive fissure of an active volcano in Grindavik (AP)
Scientist of the University of Iceland take measurements and samples standing on the ridge in front of the active part of the eruptive fissure of an active volcano in Grindavik (AP)

Rescue efforts are being hampered by the conditions and the fact that the tight gap only fit two people at the time to look for him.

“What is absolutely clear is that we are sending people into life-threatening situations, so we have to spend more time on the safety of those who are going to work on this,” field manager Hjálmar Hallgrímsson told local outlet RUV.

“People are clambering around this and trying to get to it, and the work area is for two people, we can’t get more people in.

“That is why we are replacing people and bringing in fresh hands. These are the conditions we are trying to work with.”

 (Icelandic Met Office)
(Icelandic Met Office)

Mayor of Grindavik Fannar Jónasson says that the accident took “everyone by surprise” and shows how serious the cracks in the town which was evacuated in November.

The accident came as the risk due to cracks within the town limits of Grindavík is estimated to be higher than before, according to a news report on the Norwegian Meteorological Agency’s website.