Authorities in Iceland have warned the country’s residents that a major earthquake may be looming. The alert came via the Icelandic Civil Protection Department just hours after substantial tremors – the biggest in two decades – were recorded 20 kms (12 miles) off the northern coastline of the small island nation.
Amundi Gunnarsson, who heads the Fjallabyggd fire brigade, told Reuters on behalf of the Civil Protection Department, “People are anxious because they don’t know what might happen. At the same time, life goes on as usual. People are going to work and children are going to school, but everyone is on alert.”
Officials said that one of the tremors recorded reached a magnitude of 5.6 on the Richter scale, which experts say often signals an imminent larger event.
Residents on the country’s northern coast are on the highest level of alert. Akureyri, the largest city in the area, sits around 100kms from the seismic centre and is home to around 17,000 people.
However, most houses in geologically active country are able to withstand earthquakes up to 7.0 magnitude, according to geologist Benedikt Ofeigsson. He added, however, “Of course there could be some damage to in walls and concrete in such strong earthquakes, but what is important that houses have stood firm.”