People near Iceland volcano threatened by ash and floods

People near Iceland volcano threatened by ash and floods Reykjavik: Around 800 people living near an Icelandic volcano spewing clouds of ash across Europe returned to their homes after fleeing to escape flash floods from a melting glacier atop the crater, authorities said on Friday.

For the second time in two days residents quit their homes briefly yesterday evening to avoid floodwater from the melting Eyjafjallajokull glacier that covers the erupting volcano, authorities said, adding they were being cautioned to wear masks and goggles due to health risks from the ash.

"Local residents, with the exception of 20 farms, were able to return to their homes when it became clear that flood barriers had held back the flood water," the Civil Emergency Administration said in a statement.

"There was no need for further evacuations during the night despite two additional flash floods ... The flooding did however cause widespread damage," it added.

Local Hvolsvollur police chief Kjartan Thorkelsson told agency the situation was being closely monitored in case a new evacuation was needed.

"If we see the water level going up we can again move people quickly," he said.

University of Iceland geophysicist Pall Einarsson predicted that the danger of flash flooding had yet to subside.

"We can expect flood waves to come down from the volcano without too much notice, and the people have to adjust to that fact," he told agency.

People and animals had escaped harm so far in the flooded rural area, some 125 kilometres east of Reykjavik, but some farmland had been ruined, Thorkelsson said.

The main problem now was the massive clouds of ash still spewing from the volcano, he said.