Goga Ashkenazi, a tycoon from Kazakhstan, and her entourage put themselves in grave danger when they landed via helicopter near the Holuhraun eruption site without permission, according to Víðir Reynisson, divisional manager at the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police’s Department of Civil Protection.
Only scientists and media personnel who have received a special permit are allowed to enter the closed area near the eruption site. Even with gas masks, they have only been visiting the site for short periods at a time.
Pollution levels at the site have reached almost double the maximum levels detected in populated areas and there is a risk of a sub-glacial eruption and subsequent glacial outburst flood starting at any time.
The case is currently being investigated by police, ruv.is reports. People found entering the restricted area face heavy fines.
Friðgeir Guðjónsson, marketing officer for Reykjavík Helicopters, the company which flew the group, told ruv.is yesterday evening that they had not yet had the opportunity to speak to the pilot. He added that he hoped that the pilot could provide an explanation for the landing.
The company released a statement emphasizing that it has since the beginning focused on safety when visiting the eruption and that it has not landed at the site except when it has received special permission, which “mainly involves scientists and journalists,” ruv.is reports.