The Herjólfur ferry was this morning evacuated following the receipt of a message saying there was a bomb on board.
The police checked the ferry carefully and eventually decided there was no danger and allowed Herjólfur to continue sailing to schedule, according to Ólafur William Hand, the information officer at Eimskip, which runs the ferry.
RÚV reports that the alert was raised when a member of a group of foreign students on board the ferry received an SMS message while the ferry was en-route between the mainland and Vestmannaeyjar. The text message was a bomb threat against the boat.
The student told a teacher, who took the student and phone to report the message to the crew. The crew, in turn, made the police and coastguard aware of the situation.
As soon as the ship docked on the Vestmannaeyjar island of Heimaey, the police evacuated all passengers and crew as quickly as possible. Authorities sealed the ship like a crime scene while the search was carried out.
After the search revealed nothing suspicious, it was released back to Eimskip and allowed to continue with its schedule.
Ólafur William Hand says that the evacuation and bomb search went exactly as the crew had practiced and that all passengers were cooperative and considerate.
There is no news yet on who sent the SMS text message.
The police now believe the message was left in the onboard Wi-Fi system as a “prank” and that the Scandinavian student who received the message was simply the first person to log into the free Wi-Fi this morning. Such “prank” messages are apparently a known problem and have occurred in Iceland before, a spokesperson said.