Six people were lucky to survive when a 50-100 meter wide avalanche hit them when they were trying to help sheep trapped in cliffs in Fossdalur valley in Barðaströnd, the southern West Fjords, on Monday afternoon.
Archive photo by ESA.
“It happened so quickly. I was running at full speed,” farmer Barði Sveinsson at Innri-Múli, who collapsed when hit by the avalanche, told Morgunblaðið. “I was trying to run up against the hillside. I thought it was just a small drift above us.”
Barði and his five companions were carried 30 to 40 meters with the avalanche but they were all on the surface when it came to a halt.
“The girl who was with us had to be dragged out. Her head and shoulders stood out but she still couldn’t move,” added Jónas Þrastarson, another of the avalanche victims.
“It is a trying experience. It has never happened to me before. You cannot think or do anything,” described Barði. “While you’re being carried with the avalanche your mind goes numb. I just remember that I was tumbling.”
No one was harmed; fortunately there were no rocks sticking out of the snow and the avalanche came to a halt right before the edge of a cliff. If there had been more snow and the avalanche more powerful, it would have pushed them off the cliff, Barði stated.
“The avalanche didn’t go far but it was definitely one or one and a half meters at its deepest point so someone could easily have been buried in it,” Jónas added.
All of the six people are members of search and rescue teams and three of them have been involved with training dogs in looking for people buried in snow. “Being hit by an avalanche and escaping unharmed is a valuable experience for us,” Jónas said.
Two sheep dogs had been on the expedition but escaped the avalanche. The sheep are still on the loose and so another expedition is planned.
Click here to read yesterday’s news about the avalanche.