Travelers Found after Extensive Search on Glacier Skip to content

Travelers Found after Extensive Search on Glacier

A woman and her 11-year-old son were found unharmed last night after an extensive search on Langjökull glacier in the western highlands. They were traveling on ski-doos with a group of Scottish tourists and had lost track of their traveling companions.

A different glacier tour. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

The woman flipped the ski-doo and used the hood to shield herself and her son from the raging blizzard while they waited for help. She also used her body to protect her son, reports.

The mother and son were taken to hospital but hardly needed any medical attention. Police say the woman may have saved her and her son’s lives with her actions.

Search and rescue teams were called out around 5:30 pm yesterday after the woman and boy had disappeared from the group.

Around 300 emergency crew members from the capital region, north, west and south Iceland participated in the search in 90 different groups. Snowmobiles, ski-doos and other vehicles were used.

The search conditions were very poor as there was only one-meter visibility, the wind speed was 18-20 meters per second and the temperature -10°C (14°F).

Lárus Gudmundsson, chairman of the search and rescue team Hjálparsveit skáta in Hveragerdi, who drove an emergency vehicle from the cabin in Stálpanes to the glacier, said a member of his team had to walk in front of the car to guide them in the right direction. They could hardly see anything because of the blizzard.

The tourists were found around 1:30 am, 40-50 meters away from the path which had been chosen by the travel agency that organized the tour.

They were cared for in a snowmobile which followed ski-doos off the glacier down to the Stálpanes cabin. From there the tourists were taken via emergency crew vehicle to the hospital in Reykjavík where they arrived at 6 am.

The woman, whose hands and feet had turned very cold but was otherwise unharmed, was admitted to hospital for safety reasons but the boy returned to the hotel with his father and brother.

“We did a good job there. Luck and good organization—and the audacity of those who participated in the search—are the reasons these people were found,” said Thorvaldur Gudmundsson, divisional manager of the Árnessýsla county emergency crews.

“It isn’t easy asking search teams to go out in such whether, where you can’t see anything. The only way to find the people was to drive straight at them. We tried to put ourselves in their shoes and worked accordingly,” Gudmundsson said.

Click here to read about another recent accident on Langjökull.

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