Reckless tourists play with fire posing for photos yards from erupting volcano

Thousands of tourists flocked to a volcano in Iceland which erupted for the first time in 6,000 years – to take incredibly dangerous selfies .

The visitors gathered around Mount Fagradalsfjall in Geldingadalur near the capital Reykjavik, to watch in amazement as lava spewed from its cracks.

The spectacular site was captured in a series of photos and video footage recorded by the onlookers who described the event as ‘breath-taking.’

In the first eruption of its kind in the peninsula for 781 years, lava began gushing out of cracks in the volcano on March 19.

Thousands of small earthquakes in the area – situated southwest of Reykjavík.- brought the sleeping giant back to life after it had sat dormant for 6,000 years.

In the first eruption of its kind in the peninsula for 781 years, lava began gushing out of cracks in the volcano on March 19.

Thousands of small earthquakes in the area – situated southwest of Reykjavík.- brought the sleeping giant back to life after it had sat dormant for 6,000 years.

Initially, the site was blocked off for safety reasons and all air traffic at Keflavik International Airport was grounded. Locals were also put on standby in case they needed to evacuate the area.

But since Saturday afternoon people have been allowed to visit, with some travelling many miles to witness the dramatic scene.

"It's absolutely breathtaking," Ulvar Kari Johannsson, a 21-year-old engineer, told the AFP news agency.

"It smells pretty bad. For me what was surprising was the colours of the orange: much, much deeper than what one would expect," he added.

Pictures showed people smiling and posing close to the dangerous mountain as it spat out scorching lava and hot ash.

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Scientists were even spotted at the foot of the volcano cooking sausages over its heat as they studied the eruption.

Iceland's prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir had originally warned people to stay away from the area, but has now confirmed it is not considered a threat.

He tweeted: "A volcanic eruption has begun in Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes peninsula.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and as of now it is not considered a threat to surrounding towns.

"We ask people to keep away from the immediate area and stay safe."

Experts also now say the activity at the site has "somewhat decreased" in recent days, despite the lava still posing a "local hazard."

According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, Fagradalsfjall's eruptive fissure, which is the vent which the lava is spat out of, is around 500-700 metres long.

It has produced more than 10 million square feet of lava so far, with some plumes rocketing 300ft into the air. But the eruption is still deemed to be relatively small and controlled.

There were initially also concerns about ash clouds due to the volcano's close proximity to Keflavik Airport, but buildings in the area are not thought to be in danger any more.

The meteorological office tweeted: "Gas pollution is not expected to cause much discomfort for people except close up to the source of the eruption."

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