Two paramedics were injured while responding to a bus accident in South Iceland yesterday, Vísir reports. The two were walking down the road when they were thrown by a strong gust of wind, with one sustaining a mild concussion. A press release from Icelandic Search and Rescue described the weather in the area as “absolutely crazy,” with winds reaching speeds of 40m/s.
No passengers injured
Search and rescue volunteers were called out at 8.12am yesterday morning due to a bus that had veered off the Ring Road near Eyjafjallajökull in South Iceland. The bus had ended in a shallow river, but none of the 23 passengers, all foreign tourists, were injured. Response teams transported the group to a response centre the Red Cross had set up nearby. According to ICE-SAR’s Public Relations Officer Davíð Már Bjarnason, the bus’ passengers remained calm and the process went smoothly.
Foreign tour company criticised
The bus was operated by foreign-based tour company European Coach Services, which has been criticised by members of Iceland’s tourist industry for skirting local regulations when it comes to both workers’ wages and customer safety. Haraldur Teitsson, chairperson of Félag hópferðaleyfishafa (The Group Travel Licence Holder Association), stated in an interview earlier this year that ECS paid their employees ISK 5,000 ($41/€37), “not per hour, rather per day for a 10 to 12 hour shift.” Such salaries would constitute social dumping, illegal for any company operating in Iceland regardless of where it is based.
Foreign-based tour companies have also been criticised within the industry for putting their customers’ safety at risk. Hlynur Snæland Lárusson, owner of Snæland Travel, stated that most Icelandic companies cancel tours in the weather conditions that caused yesterday’s accident. “All of these Icelandic companies work similarly, those that have a fleet [of vehicles]. If the wind speed is above 30m/s we stop the vehicles unless there’s a particular wind direction,” Hlynur stated. He expressed concern with authorities for the lack of addressing the issue of foreign tour companies that skirt regulation.