Nuuk: Villagers have been evacuated over concerns that an iceberg the size of a hill drifting off Greenland is about to shed a 100-metre chunk and cause a ‘tsunami’.
Fearing that the iceberg will trigger flooding, authorities have moved residents from the danger zone of the remote Innaarsuit island settlement. Households on a promontory have been told to move away from the shore over concerns that the 100-metre (over 300 feet) high iceberg, which was spotted on Thursday, could swamp the area.
While the settlement in northwestern Greenland has about 170 inhabitants, only those living closest to the iceberg have been evacuated further up a steep slope. The iceberg towers over houses on a promontory in the village, but it is grounded on the sea floor and has not moved overnight, state broadcaster KNR reported.
While it was not unusual for large icebergs to be seen so close to Innaarsuit, ‘this iceberg is the biggest we have seen… and there are cracks and holes that make us fear it can calve anytime,’ said Susanne K. Eliassen, a member of the village council.
The village’s power station and fuel tanks are close to the shore.
‘Nobody is staying unnecessarily close to the beach and all children have been told to stay in areas that are high up,’ Eliassen told the local newspaper Sermitsiaq.
The government and police are on high alert and have moved a search-and-rescue (SAR) helicopter closer to the remote village.
The incident comes weeks after scientists at New York University shot and released a video of a massive iceberg breaking free from a glacier in eastern Greenland in June.
An expert warned that extreme iceberg events will become more frequent.
‘Iceberg production in Greenland has been increasing in the past 100 years as climate change has become stronger,’ William Colgan, senior researcher at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland said. He said the rising number of icebergs are in turn ‘increasing the tsunami hazards’ which occur when they break away from a glacier and trigger a tidal wave.
Last summer, four people died and 11 were injured after an earthquake sparked a tsunami off another island settlement called Nuugaatsiaq, northwestern Greenland, sending several houses crashing into the sea.