When a group of snowmobilers reached shelter after being rescued from a storm last month, they found lawyers waiting for them, RÚV reports. The lawyers’ aim was to offer their services in case the foreign tourists wanted to take legal action against the company who ran the excursion. Red Cross and Search and Rescue representatives criticised the move, saying it provoked unnecessarily stress on the heels of the group’s traumatic experience.
On January 7, 39 tourists were stranded at the base of Langjökull glacier in West Iceland, where they were forced to dig snow shelters while they waited hours for rescue teams to reach them. Mountaineers of Iceland, the company that organised the tour, later admitted fault, saying the decision to visit an ice cave on the trip led the group to get stuck in bad weather.
When the group arrived at Gullfosskaffi shortly after being rescued, they found lawyers awaiting them. Lawyers also met the group upon their arrival in Reykjavík shortly after. Þór Þorsteinsson, ICE-SAR’s director, says laywers also called the organisation asking for a list of names of victims in the incident, “which we, of course, did not provide.”
In a TV interview, Þór and Brynhildur Bolladóttir, the Icelandic Red Cross’ public relations officer, agreed that the lawyers’ presence was not a desirable development. Brynhildur added that it was the duty of Red Cross staff to ensure that individuals who had experienced trauma not experience additional stress, including from reporters, who were also present to interview some of those rescued. Conditions are often such that people can’t evaluate whether they should give an interview or not. “All provocation when people have experienced trauma or serious events can have consequences,” Brynhildur stated.