Missing Plane Found

missing plane Þingvellir

Search and Rescue teams have found the sightseeing plane that went missing around midday on Thursday, Vísir reports. The craft was found in Þingvallavatn lake by a remote-controlled submarine at 11:00 pm on Friday night. There were four casualties in the crash: an experienced Icelandic pilot and three foreign tourists who were from Belgium, the Netherlands, and the US, respectively.

Nearly 1,000 people took part in the search, including around 900 Search and Rescue team members, the Coast Guard’s helicopter and special operations squadrons, police officers, members of Civil Protection, the National Police Commissioner’s special squadron, employees of ISAVÍA (the national airport and air service provider of Iceland), as well as private individuals.

In its announcement about the discovery of the plane, the Coast Guard thanked all those who had taken part in the search “for their selfless and dedicated work under demanding conditions. An investigation into the incident and next steps are in the hands of the South Iceland police.”

At time of writing, there was not yet any indication of what caused the accident, and nor was it known if there was a black box on board that could potentially shed light on the circumstances of the crash.

Poor weather conditions will make recovery difficult

As of Saturday night, South Iceland police had advised that poor weather conditions and difficult conditions on Þingvallavatn lake would made it unlikely that they would be able to extract the plane before next week. Assessments had yet to determine if it would be possible to recover the bodies of the victims from the crash site before that. The Cessna 172N was found in the southeastern part of the lake, at a considerable distance from the shoreline and a depth of 48 metres [157 ft]. This is a difficult depth for divers to work at, not to mention that the water temperature ranges between 0-1°C [32-33.8°F].

“It can freeze over very quickly and then you’re diving under ice,” explained Oddur Árnason, chief superintendent of the South Iceland police. This not only makes technical maneuvering difficult, he continued, “it’s downright dangerous for rescuers.”

Rescuers wait for a 48-hour good-weather window

The recovery will be co-managed by a special task force and the Coast Guard. In order to undertake the operation, the team will need a 48-hour window of fair weather.

“The forecast for the coming days isn’t in our favor,” said Oddur. “So we’re going to use this time to get set up and call for the necessary equipment and tools we need.”

“Our priority is to get the deceased to the surface, but how that will be accomplished remains to be seen.”

Verbúðin Wins Big at Göteborg Film Festival

Icelandic TV series Verbúðin (English title: Blackport) won the 2022 Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize at the Göteborg Film Festival this week, RÚV reports. The award is given for “outstanding writing of a Nordic drama series” and is accompanied by a prize of NOK 200,000 [ISK 2.85 million; $22,824]. This year’s nominees included Countrymen (Norway; written by Izer Aliu, Anne Bjørnstad), Transport (Finland; written by Auli Mantila), The Shift (Denmark; written by Lone Scherfig), and Vi i villa (Sweden; written by Tove Eriksen Hillblom).

Set in the Westfjords in the 1980s, the story follows a married couple, Harpa and Grimur, as they build a small fishing empire along with their childhood friends. But with the introduction of a new quota system in the country, where the fishing grounds are privatised, the struggle for power results in a feud of jealousy, greed and betrayal.

Hailed as the buzziest TV series to come out of Iceland since Trapped, Verbúðin has indeed already garnered a great deal of international interest, despite the fact that it has not yet been widely broadcast for the international public. Vesturport produced the show for RÚV in Iceland and Arte France, and has production backing from the UK’s Turbine Studios, the Nordic 12 TV Alliance and the Nordisk Film & TV Fond. Prior to its success at Göteborg, it won the Series Mania Award at the Berlinale Co-Pro Series pitching event in 2018 and was also a hit at the Spanish Serielizados TV festival last fall.

Verbúðin has also been extremely popular with audiences at home—80% audience approval according to some figures. But the positive foreign reception of this particularly Icelandic story has been particularly surprising for the creators, says Mikael Torfason, who co-wrote the script with two members of the Vesturport theatre and film company who also star in the series: Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir (The Vallhalla Murders, Trapped), Björn Hlynur Haraldsson (Trapped, The Witcher), and Gísli Örn Garðarsson (Ragnarok, Prisoners). “This is maybe not something you’d expect. The most popular material has usually been crime dramas.”



‘Receiving refugees in Iceland is important to us as a society’

The refugees who have been resettled in Akureyri, North Iceland are, by and large, adjusting very well to their new home, RÚV reports. The town resettled 28 individuals from Syria between 2016-17 and has received 20 more Syrians and five refugees from Afghanistan since the fall. Now, with further resettlements on the horizon, director of Akureyri’s social services Anna Marit Níelsdóttir says it’s important to review the town’s agreement with the government and its reception and resettlement framework so as to ensure that new arrivals have the tools they need to be productive members of Icelandic society.

Most of the refugees who have recently settled in Akureyri arrived in Iceland independently, rather than being resettled as part of the government’s quota agreements. Regardless of how refugees arrive in Iceland, however, Akureyri assists in their resettlement by offering them support in obtaining housing and services like language education.

Obviously, says Anna Marit, these individuals have fled horrifying circumstances, and there are certain difficulties that go along with that. Nevertheless, “The vast majority of people who have come here have done very well and generally speaking, they want to find work as soon as possible, that’s pretty evident,” she says. “Most came to have a safer, better life and, not least, they’re thinking about their children—it’s really important to them that their children do well in school.”

‘I didn’t even know Iceland existed’

High schooler Nour Maria Naser came to Iceland from Syria with her parents and two younger brothers. She didn’t know Iceland even existed before arriving in the country five years ago.

Nour Maria says she’s adjusted well to life in Akureyri but some things—like the darkness and walking on ice—have been hard to get used to. She and her brothers speak Icelandic, and she says that the younger two are doing well in school. She plans to study medicine at university in the fall.

Mohamad Eid Alarouri arrived in Akureyri from Syria with his wife and two sons in September. Their family has since expanded: daughter Lamis was born in December. Mohamad says he’s very happy in Akureyri and is working to get his feet under him in Iceland. “I am learning Icelandic now and becoming part of the community so that my family and I can have a better life.”

Important to review resources and resettlement agreement

Looking ahead, Anna Marit says that it’s really important for there to be sufficient resources in place for incoming refugees. “Foreign studies show that refugees make positive contributions to society within a few years. So receiving refugees in Iceland is important to us as a society.”