Iceland: Red Cross helps evacuees after volcanic eruption

By Tore Svenning, IFRC

Around 700 people had to be evacuated in Iceland, following the eruption of the ice-covered volcano Eyjafjallajökull.

On Wednesday, April 14, the Icelandic Red Cross immediately mobilised around 35 staff and volunteers, and opened four shelters where more than 200 people have found refuge. The rest of them were able to stay with friends and relatives.

Psychosocial support and food

The latest eruption has caused large parts of a glacier to melt which has led to significant flash floods. Iceland's main ring road is impassable and Icelandic Red Cross is currently assessing whether everyone in the disaster area still has enough food. The most affected area is located about 160 kilometres by road from the capital Reykjavik.

In parallel the National Society is looking into offering psychosocial support, mainly for children who have been traumatized by the loud explosions that can be heard for many miles. A Red Cross 24-hour helpline is active, as is an information line for people looking for relatives and loved ones.

So far, the Icelandic Red Cross has no need for international assistance.

Seismic hotspot

Iceland is highly geological active and earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are not unusual. Volcano Eyjafjallajökull already erupted at the end of March. Back then, Icelandic Red Cross provided some 120 people with accommodation, food and psychosocial support.