New Year’s Rescue Mission Finds New Lava Field Still Unstable And Dangerous

Last Friday, the Coast Guard’s helicopter was mobilised to retrieve a woman trapped at the former viewpoint over the Fagradalsfjall eruption. The hill is now enclosed by lava, and authorities have warned the public not to cross the new lava field. As three months have passed since the eruption ended, the local search-and-rescue squad decided to investigate if the lava field was safe enough for them to cross on foot but found that the new lava’s surface was still unstable and dangerous.

After crossing the new lava field to reach the hill that formerly served as a viewpoint over the eruption, the woman didn’t feel up to returning the same way she came and requested emergency assistance.

In a Facebook post, members of the Þorbjörn squad state that ever since the eruption began, they’ve been asking people to refrain from walking on the new lava, as it’s unstable and dangerous. On December 31, more than three months after the eruption stopped, they decided to investigate if it was safe to walk on the lava to rescue the trapped person.

They chose a part of the new lava field where they would have to go as short a distance as possible and where the new lava was not very thick. Armed with a powerful thermograph and pinch bars, the group carefully entered the new lava field. After only a few meters, they found the area unsafe and requested the Coast Guard’s helicopter’s assistance in the rescue mission.

During their short expedition, they found that the surface of the new lava field was very unstable and fragile. There’s an acute danger of stepping through the surface, which could release a dangerous amount of heat. In addition to burn injuries, travellers risk cutting their ankles or calf on the rock’s sharp edges.

They also noted that there’s no way of knowing where tunnels or caves have formed underneath the surface. While there’s seismic activity in the area, these tunnels or caves are liable to collapse without warning.

Even though it’s been more than three months since the eruption ended, there’s still a great deal of heat on the surface. The thermograph detected temperatures of over 200°c [392°f].

In light of these discoveries, the search-and-rescue squad has announced that they will not be crossing the lava field to rescue trapped travellers. If people cross the new lava and get into accidents, they will only be able to be rescued by helicopter.

President Presents Optimism Award, Invests Twelve With Order of Falcon

Twelve people were invested with the order of the Falcon at a reception at the Bessastaðir presidential residence on New Year’s Day. Shortly before Christmas, the order council passed a motion to present the badge in the same manner regardless of the recipient’s gender. A day later, President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson awarded the Icelandic Optimism Award to poet and writer Fríða Ísberg.

Until now, women invested with the Order of the Falcon have worn a knight’s cross or a grand knight’s cross on a bow but men on a ribbon. On December 5, 2021, the order council passed President of Iceland’s Guðni Th. Jóhannesson’s motion to make the ribbon the same for people of all genders.

All recipients now wear Iceland’s Order of the Falcon on a ribbon, regardless of gender.

The order is Iceland’s only order of chivalry, founded by King Christian x of Denmark, grandfather to the current queen of Denmark, in 1921 when he and queen Alexandrine visited Iceland. It was created and presented for the first time on July 3. With the foundation of the Republic of Iceland in 1944, the President of Iceland became the Grand Master of the Order of the Falcon.

The Icelandic Optimism Award was formerly known as Brøste’s Optimism Award, founded by the Danish Peter Brøste in 1981. Fríða has worked as a writer for a long time despite her young age. Fríða was nominated for the Nordic Literary Prize for her first short story collection, and despite only publishing her debut novel Merking a few months ago, her books already have been or are set to be translated into 14 different languages.

The twelve people invested with the Order of the Falcon on January 1, 2022:

  1. Professor Áslaug Geirsdóttir, Reykjavík, for her work in the field of geology and climate research.
  2. Bjarni Felixson, former sports reporter, Reykjavík, for his work in the field of sports, social affairs, and communication.
  3. Writer Gerður Kristný Guðjónsdóttir, Reykjavík, For her contribution to Icelandic literature.
  4. Entrepreneur Haraldur Ingi Þorleifsson, Reykjavík, for his work in the field of innocation and social affairs.
  5. Education Specialist Jóhanna Guðrún Kristjánsdóttir, Flateyri, for her contribution to education and culture in her region.
  6. Family Physician Katrín Fjeldsted, Reykjavík, for her contribution to healthcare and social affairs in addition to her public service.
  7. Designer Kristín Þorkelsdóttir, Kópavogi, for her pioneering work in the field of design and contribution to art.
  8. Ólafía Jakobsdóttir, former mayor, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, for ehr work in the field of nature conservation and cultural affairs in her region.
  9. Musician and composer Sigurður Flosason, Reykjavík, for his contribution to jazz music and work in music education.
  10. Professor emeritus and Head Civil Engineer Sigurjón Arason, Kópavogur, for research and development in seafood production.
  11. Ambassador Stefán Haukur Jóhannesson, Reykjavík, for public service.
  12. Professor Emeritus Trausti Valsson, Reykjavík, for his contribution to planning studies and national discourse.



First Child Of the Year Born In an Ambulance


The first child born in Iceland in 2022 was a healthy baby girl born en route from Siglufjörður to Akureyri, RÚV reports. Her parents were attending her grandfather’s seventieth birthday party when she decided it was time to be born, two weeks before she was due.

The parents of 2022’s first child, Elfa Sif Kristjánsdóttir and Ásgeir Frímannsson live in Ólafsfjörður in North Iceland but were in the nearby town of Siglufjörður attending a birthday party when things started moving. The new mother told RÚV that her water broke around ten pm and it was only minutes before paramedics arrived. They picked up the midwife in Dalvík hoping to make it to the hospital in Akureyri, but it soon became clear that they needed to make a stop. The girl was born at 23 minutes past midnight in an ambulance parked at a side road. Mother and child are in good health.

Dry Weather Provides Conditions For New Year Brushfires

Ever since the 18th century, Icelanders have had a tradition of “burning away the old year” with bonfires, and later fireworks. This year, authorities didn’t permit bonfires due to COVID-19 but a snowless ground paired with dry, heavy winds provided the perfect conditions for brush fires in south and west Iceland over the first few days of the year. New Year’s fireworks and illegal bonfires exacerbated the problem, but in Mosfellsbær, a group of teenage boys helped save homes from burning down.

Brush fires were burning in various locations in the capital area on New Year’s Eve and the days following. Dry grass made kindling for most fires, but garbage containers and roofs also caught fire. All available firefighters responded to calls over fires on New Year’s Eve, and search-and-rescue teams were mobilised to help. On New Year’s Eve, 90 fires were reported to the capital area firefighters.

In Árnessýsla in south Iceland, the fire department fought 54 fires and got additional reports from locals who managed to extinguish some fires on their own. The deputy fire chief in Árnessýsla Lárus Kristinn Guðmundsson told RÚV that the fires left large areas burnt after New Year’s Eve. Even though authorities permitted no bonfires this New Year’s Eve, sparks from fireworks and illegal bonfires lit most of the flames. A snow-free ground and heavy dry winds provided perfect conditions for the fire to spread.

A residential building in Mosfellsbær was close to catching fire on New Year’s Day when a brush fire broke out in the middle of a residential neighbourhood. Kids in the area noticed the fire and notified people closest to it. Using every tactic, they managed to extinguish the fire, but it was only two metres from a house when their efforts were finally successful.

Once the fire department arrived, the fire was mostly out. According to a resident in the house threatened by fire, some teenage boys were instrumental in extinguishing the fire. “They sort of rescued us. There were so many of them, and they were so quick, running around with shovels, blankets, and buckets. I think that was the most important part, how quick they were to run around with water and everything.”

In addition to the fires, seven people sought help at the National Hospital’s emergency room with fireworks-related injuries on their hands. Senior physician at the Emergency Room Hjalti Már Björnsson, noted that all seven cases included grown men, not children or teenagers. He told RÚV that there hadn’t been a notable increase in emergency room arrivals due to intoxication or assaults. “There were some but not noticeably more than usual.”