The dangerous Reynisfjara beach will see a risk assessment conducted by the government. Reynisfjara is a popular travel destination nearby Vík in South Iceland. It has an immensely strong undertow, and waves that creep quickly upon travellers, threatening to snatch travellers out to sea. The risk evaluation will focus on both the strong tide as well as rockfall in the area. If the changes go through, the police will have the option to close the beach on dangerous days. A warning mast is also to be placed at the beach.
Three traveller deaths
Reynisfjara has claimed three lives since 2007, with many more close calls. The area is clearly marked with warning signs, and tour guides place great emphasis on safety in the area. This week, a number of travellers were swept into the water. The tide has also pinned travellers down in a small cave in the area.
Minister of Tourism, Industry and Innovation Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir leads the project, which will be performed by the police in South Iceland. The police intend to work alongside the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration, The Icelandic Met Office and the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management.
“It’s unacceptable that there’s a risk of a massive accident in one of the most popular tourist locations in the country, without the necessary arrangements in place. Certain improvements have been made, but the responsibility for the case is complicated as well as the fact that travellers often ignore warnings, putting themselves at great risk. This is why we recommend that a risk evaluation be performed and, based on that, the police can close the area when needed, which should in all likelihood not be more than five to seven days per year,” said Minister Þórdís Kolbrún.
The closures on the beach would prevent further accidents. It is expected that they would take place in extreme weather, with a strong tide, between November to March. A wave prediction system, as well as an alert system, will be placed in Reynisfjara, which has been in the works since 2017. The Icelandic Tourist Board sanctioned the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration to install the systems. The system is already available at the Icelandic Met Office’s website, and the information can be found on the Safe Travel websites. The project will be completed with the construction of a mast on the beach which will flash a warning light at times of danger. A permit from all of the landowners in the area, which number around 250 in total, is needed for the mast.
The beach is considered one of the most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world, with clear black sand, basalt columns, and the view of the Reynisdrangar rock formation. The beach is a two and half hour drive away from Reykjavík. The sneaker waves in the area pose a danger to travellers, who are advised to stand at least 30 metres away from the waves.