Search Launched in Dublin Park for Icelander Missing Since 2019

The search continues for Icelander Jón Þröstur Jónsson.

Following two anonymous tips, the police in Ireland now fear that Jón Þröstur Jónsson — who went missing in Dublin in 2019 — met his death after a meeting in Santry Demesne Park. The authorities initiated a search for his remains in the park yesterday. The search is expected to take at least two days. 

Missing without a trace

In February of 2019, 41-year-old Jón Þröstur Jónsson disappeared in Dublin. He was visiting the city with his fiancée to attend a poker tournament and was last seen on surveillance cameras in Whitehall, a northside suburb of Dublin. The police had few leads on Jón Þröstur’s disappearance early on, and very little new information has emerged over the past five years. 

Earlier this week, however, the police in Ireland announced that it had received two anonymous tips — sent to the police and a city priest respectively — suggesting that Jón Þröstur had walked to Santry Demesne Park on the night of his disappearance.

The Irish media outlet Dublin Live reported yesterday that police feared he might have been murdered: “Sources have told Dublin Live that officers now suspect Jón Þröstur Jónsson was killed on the day he vanished in the city five years ago – after a meeting he had organised went wrong. It’s understood officers believe he had lost thousands of euros while playing poker in Dublin before his disappearance – and was meeting someone to get access to more cash.”

Search expected to take at least two days

In light of this new information, the police initiated a search in Santry Demesne Park yesterday. Due to the size of the park, the search is expected to take at least two days.

Dublin Live reported that the authorities were focusing their search on two areas of the Santry Demesne Park. “One is a heavily wooded area, while the other is a deep lake in the park – which means officers believe his remains have either been hidden in a shallow grave or in the water … officers from Ballymun have called in several specialist Garda units – including divers and dog handlers. Cadaver dogs are involved in the search – and they are used to indicate if human remains are in the area.”

In an interview with Newstalk Breakfast this morning, journalist Muiris O’Cearbhaill from the Irish media outlet The Journal said that the police had not released any new information but that developments might occur today. 

As noted by Vísir, Jón Þröstur’s siblings, Anna Hildur and Davíð Karl, flew to Dublin last week and participated in a press conference with the police, renewing their call for the search for Jón Þröstur, five years after his disappearance.

Blue Lagoon Extends Closure Today, Reassessment Tomorrow

The Blue Lagoon Iceland

The Blue Lagoon will remain closed today, February 14. The company will reassess the situation tomorrow and provide updates on its website. 

Blue Lagoon evacuated, all facilities closed

Following a volcanic eruption that commenced on the morning of February 8, the management at the Blue Lagoon took precautionary measures to evacuate and temporarily close all of its facilities. 

In an update published on its website yesterday, the Blue Lagoon noted that although the eruption had ceased, a decision had been made to keep all of the facilities closed through today, Wednesday, February 14. The situation will be reassessed tomorrow and further updates will be provided on the website as soon as new information is available.

The announcement notes that all guests with bookings during this temporary closure period will be contacted. Guests wishing to modify or cancel their bookings are directed to use the My Booking portal. 

“We will continue to closely follow the guidelines and recommendations of the authorities, working collaboratively with them to monitor the progression of events. This commitment aligns with our unwavering dedication to ensuring the safety and well-being of our valued guests and staff,” the announcement reads. 

Iceland Facing Greatest Challenge Since Republic’s Founding

Prime Minister of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir delivered an oral report to Parliament yesterday on the new challenges facing the Reykjanes Peninsula due to recent volcanic activity. She emphasised that, while Iceland was facing its most significant natural disaster challenges, the country was better prepared than ever. A comprehensive hazard assessment led by the Icelandic Meteorological Office is underway and is expected to be completed by 2025.

The luxury of relative calm

Taking the podium before Parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir delivered an oral report on the new reality facing residents of the Reykjanes peninsula. Katrín noted that the Icelanders had been no strangers to natural disasters since the settlement, although they had enjoyed “the luxury of a relatively calm environment” around the most densely populated area of the country over the past centuries. 

Geoscientists had, however, pointed out that the Reykjanes peninsula would awaken sooner or later, given that volcanic activity on the Reykjanes peninsula is cyclic, occurring every 800 to 1000 years.

Read More: In Focus (A Brief Chronology of the Recent Reykjanes Eruptions)

“As nearly 800 years have passed since the last known eruptions on the peninsula, and with eruptions starting almost four years ago, it should have been clear to everyone that events could unfold sooner or later,” Katrín continued. “This reality has become apparent to us and reminds us just how much our lives and existence are shaped by nature.” 

Greatest challenge in the history of the Republic

Katrín recalled visiting the area near the town of Grindavík on Monday and observing how new lava and protective barriers had altered the landscape, following the three eruptions that had occurred near Grindavík since December 18.

During the most recent event on February 8, the eruption initially seemed to pose little danger, but soon lava began flowing powerfully over Grindavík Road and the hot-water pipeline, known as the Njarðvíkur conduit, which transports hot water to all residents of the Suðurnes region from the Svartsengi power plant. This resulted in four days without hot water for residents of the Suðurnes region, representing one of the darkest scenarios we had anticipated.”

Given these recent events, the Minister went on to characterise the coming years on the Reykjanes peninsula as the greatest challenge facing the Republic since its founding: “I am confident in stating that our society is currently confronting the most significant natural disaster challenges in the history of our republic. However, I also assert that we are more prepared to address these challenges now than at any previous point in time,” Katrín stated. 

The Icelandic Republic was established on June 17, 1944, ending the union with Denmark.

Comprehensive hazard assessment to be finalised in 2025

Katrín concluded by emphasising that work had begun on the creation of a comprehensive hazard assessment for the Reykjanes Peninsula as led by the Icelandic Meteorological Office. 

“This is extremely important because there are many volcanic systems beneath the Reykjanes peninsula, and a great deal has been done to expedite this work because it takes considerable time. The aim is to publish the results in stages so that we receive interim reports on the work. We expect this project to be completed in 2025.” 

The assessment will cover the effects and impact areas of earthquakes and lava flow near populated areas, and it will also include a risk assessment on the effect of ash and gases in the atmosphere. Katrín noted that such a hazard assessment had already been conducted for the most active part of the Reykjanes Peninsula and that the rest of the assessment would be published in stages until the year 2025.

Likely Capelin Discovery Reported Southwest of Iceland

iceland fishing

Marine researchers have discovered what they believe to be a significant quantity of capelin southwest of the country, amid challenging weather conditions. Further investigations and sampling are planned to confirm the findings.

Challenging weather conditions

Vessels from the Marine & Freshwater Research Institute discovered yesterday what is believed to be a significant quantity of capelin southwest of Iceland. 

In an interview with RÚV this morning, Guðmundur J. Óskarsson, Head of the Pelagic Division at the Marine & Freshwater Research Institute, stated that the search for capelin was somewhat complicated by challenging weather conditions. Pelagic fishing vessels, fishing for blue whiting, were enlisted to assist with the search yesterday and found what is believed to be a considerable quantity of capelin.  

Two ships have since been directed to the site to conduct further measurements. “We cannot confirm that it is capelin; it could possibly be herring, but we believe it is most likely capelin,” Guðmundur stated, adding that a closer examination of the site was planned for today. 

Very little capelin detected

The Marine & Freshwater Research Institute reported on Monday, February 12, that very little capelin had been detected in February. This was the second capelin measurement of the year. As noted by RÚV, there have been significant fluctuations in capelin measurements in recent years: “We are continuously conducting research, but what is most difficult to understand is what is affecting the variability in the recruitment of the stock,” Guðmundur told RÚV this morning.

“We have to examine this more closely. The research vessel Bjarni Sæmundsson is conducting marine research to the east, but the crew will be called to this task now; we need to ascertain whether or not this is capelin and obtain samples,” Guðmundur concluded by saying.

One of the most important commercial stocks in Iceland

As noted in an article in Iceland Review in 2021, capelin is one of the most important commercial fish stocks in Iceland, accounting for around 13% of export earnings. “Only cod brings in more, and it bears pointing out that cod is also dependent on capelin, which may account for up to 40% of its total food,” the article notes.

Read More: Net Profit (On Capelin in Iceland)

In recent times, stocks of capelin in Icelandic waters have been volatile, which has made it difficult to predict or plan fishing seasons. The fish have a short life cycle, procreating only once before their ultimate demise, which makes the stock vulnerable to overfishing and changes in the marine environment.