Three foreign tourists were rescued from their car roofs on Wednesday after their vehicles got stuck in a glacial river on the Flæður highland route north of Vatnajökull glacier, RÚV reports.
“This was a group of foreign tourists in six cars,” explained an officer on duty with the Húsavík police department. “The last car that was crossing got stuck in the river. Then one of the cars turned around to help and also got stuck.”
“This is a special spot,” he continued. “It isn’t a straight riverbed – it flows out from under the glacier. It’s been really hot and thawing a lot and the [rivers] have expanded and their currents have become very strong.”
The officer interviewed about the rescue noted that the tourists had been travelling along a marked trail and had simply ended up in difficult straits because of the river conditions. It was, in fact, due to the strong currents and high water levels, that a Coast Guard helicopter was dispatched to rescue the travelers, rather than having rescuers ford the river.
At the time of their rescue, the tourists had been standing on the roofs of their cars for one and a half to two hours but were unharmed.
Swelling rivers are creating travel concerns in several places in the highlands. SafeTravel.is has since issued the following travel alerts:
“Gæsavatnaleið via Flæður is closed due to extremely high water levels on Flæður. Gæsavatnaleið can be driven by bypassing Flæður via Gígöldur – superjeeps only.”
“Sprengisandur, road F26, is only suitable for bigger jeeps due to swelling rivers. Smaller jeeps could cross in the early morning when water levels are lower.”