Lawyers Awaited Snowmobilers After Rescue

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.

39 Snowmobilers Rescued Near Langjökull Glacier

Search and rescue teams were dispatched yesterday evening after a blinding snowstorm battered a group of 39 snowmobilers on Skálpanes by the roots of the Langjökull glacier, Mbl reports. The group dug snow shelters as they waited for rescue units to arrive.

In an interview with Mbl, Sveinn Kristján Rúnarsson, chief of police in South Iceland, confirmed that police authorities and rescue teams had come to the aid of 39 snowmobilers on Langjökull glacier yesterday evening. As later reported by Vísir, the group was on a snowmobiling tour with Mountaineers of Iceland. The snowmobilers later sought refuge in two small company vehicles. All of the rescue teams in Árnes county and South Iceland were mobilised, as were all of the ski vehicles in Árnesy county and the Greater Reykjavík Area, a total of roughly 300 rescue volunteers.

Search and rescue units arrived shortly after midnight and helped transport the group to Gulfosskaffi (Gullfoss Café) for food and drink, medical assistance, and crisis counselling, which the Health Care Institution of South Iceland and the Icelandic Red Cross provided. The first members of the group arrived at just before 6 pm this morning; it was slow going, in light of weather conditions. None of the travellers were seriously injured, although many were wet, cold, and tired. The group comprised travellers of varying nationalities.

A strong westerly storm struck Iceland yesterday. Rarik reported power outages in three separate areas in West Iceland: in Norðurárdalur; in Eskiholt near Varmaland; and Vatnshamrar in Hafnarskógur. Roads were closed in Krýsuvík, Mosfellsheiði, Bröttubrekka, Holtavörðuheiði, among others. A foreign cargo ship in Hafnarfjörður also broke off its moorings this morning.