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Photo: Golli. Search and rescue crews at Þingvallavatn lake, February 2021.

All Four Bodies Recovered from Lake Þingvallavatn

The bodies of all four men who went missing after a plane crash last Thursday were recovered from lake Þingvallavatn yesterday. Rescue workers hope to recover the aircraft today.

One of the most extensive rescue efforts in recent history

Around 1,000 individuals took part in one of the most extensive rescue efforts in recent memory after a Cessna 172N aircraft went missing last Thursday. The plane had set off on a two-hour sightseeing trip carrying four people.

The Cessna was located in Þingvallavatn lake on Saturday in Southwest Iceland. The deceased were identified as Icelandic pilot Haraldur Diego and three passengers from the US, Netherlands, and Belgium: John Neuman, 22; Tim Alings, 27; and Nicola Bellavia, 32.

Given difficult conditions and freezing temperatures, divers spent much of Wednesday planning the recovery of the bodies, lying at a depth of 37 metres [121 feet] and deeper. Each diver was only permitted a single attempt per day and a total of 20 minutes in the water.

The bodies of all four men were recovered from the lake yesterday by rescue workers, aided by a remote-controlled submarine. The bodies have been transported to Reykjavík for identification by relatives, prior to an autopsy.

Recovering the aircraft crucial to the investigation

While recovering the bodies was a priority, retrieving the aircraft from the bottom of the lake is also vital to the investigation of the crash. A helicopter from the Icelandic coast guard, which will play an essential role in recovering the aircraft today, was on the scene near Þingvallavatn yesterday to survey conditions. Divers are expected to position flotation devices beneath the plane so that it can be heaved from the water.

As reported by Iceland Review earlier this week, Ragnar Guðmundsson, an investigator at the Icelandic Transport Authority, stated that the aircraft was located at a depth of 50 metres [164 feet] and appeared to be in good shape. The investigation committee hopes to determine the amount of fuel on the plane. The longer the aircraft remains underwater, however, the more likely it is that such evidence will be compromised. So far, investigators have been relying on photographs of the plane taken by unmanned submarines.

There was no “black box,” a device that records data on an aircraft, such as flight speed, elevation, and sound, aboard the plane, for such boxes are not standard equipment on the Cessna 172N model.

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