Missing Plane Found

missing plane Þingvellir

Search and Rescue teams have found the sightseeing plane that went missing around midday on Thursday, Vísir reports. The craft was found in Þingvallavatn lake by a remote-controlled submarine at 11:00 pm on Friday night. There were four casualties in the crash: an experienced Icelandic pilot and three foreign tourists who were from Belgium, the Netherlands, and the US, respectively.

Nearly 1,000 people took part in the search, including around 900 Search and Rescue team members, the Coast Guard’s helicopter and special operations squadrons, police officers, members of Civil Protection, the National Police Commissioner’s special squadron, employees of ISAVÍA (the national airport and air service provider of Iceland), as well as private individuals.

In its announcement about the discovery of the plane, the Coast Guard thanked all those who had taken part in the search “for their selfless and dedicated work under demanding conditions. An investigation into the incident and next steps are in the hands of the South Iceland police.”

At time of writing, there was not yet any indication of what caused the accident, and nor was it known if there was a black box on board that could potentially shed light on the circumstances of the crash.

Poor weather conditions will make recovery difficult

As of Saturday night, South Iceland police had advised that poor weather conditions and difficult conditions on Þingvallavatn lake would made it unlikely that they would be able to extract the plane before next week. Assessments had yet to determine if it would be possible to recover the bodies of the victims from the crash site before that. The Cessna 172N was found in the southeastern part of the lake, at a considerable distance from the shoreline and a depth of 48 metres [157 ft]. This is a difficult depth for divers to work at, not to mention that the water temperature ranges between 0-1°C [32-33.8°F].

“It can freeze over very quickly and then you’re diving under ice,” explained Oddur Árnason, chief superintendent of the South Iceland police. This not only makes technical maneuvering difficult, he continued, “it’s downright dangerous for rescuers.”

Rescuers wait for a 48-hour good-weather window

The recovery will be co-managed by a special task force and the Coast Guard. In order to undertake the operation, the team will need a 48-hour window of fair weather.

“The forecast for the coming days isn’t in our favor,” said Oddur. “So we’re going to use this time to get set up and call for the necessary equipment and tools we need.”

“Our priority is to get the deceased to the surface, but how that will be accomplished remains to be seen.”

Foreign Tourist Saved from Highland River

foreign tourist saved from Kaldaklofskvísl 2020

Search and rescue volunteers saved a foreign tourist with hardly a moment to spare this morning after his jeep got stuck during a river crossing. After the jeep began filling with water, the man climbed onto its roof, where he had been for around two hours when rescue crews arrived.

Crews used a modified jeep to drive into Kaldaklofskvísl river and save the unfortunate traveller, and are now working to pull the jeep out as well. The jeep had been sinking into the river when rescue crews arrived, and it’s likely the rescue happened not a moment too soon.

Heavy rain has swollen rivers in the highlands, making many river crossings more difficult and even impossible for unmodified jeeps. Travellers are encouraged to keep up to date on road and weather conditions and respect road closures.

New Map Aims to Improve Safety of Travellers in Iceland

Safetravel.is, which aims to reduce the risk of travel-related accidents in Iceland, has introduced a new map. Minister of Tourism, Industry and Innovation Þórdís Kolbrún R. Gylfadóttir formally introduced the map at the What’s On Tourist Information Centre in downtown Reykjavík this week.

The new map combines what once were three maps – vedur.is, vegagerdin.is, and safetravel.is – into one. Speaking at What’s On (Bankastræti 2) on Wednesday, Minister Þórdís Kolbrún stated that the new map was a “big step forward in ensuring the safety of travellers in Iceland.” The map displays travel conditions in real time: weather, road conditions, conditions at tourist attractions, wind gusts on roads, avalanche warnings, and more.

The map is a collaborative project between the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Innovation of Iceland; the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR); and Sjóvá-Almennar Insurance. The Safetravel project was recently renewed with increased funding from the Ministry. The new map is no less useful to locals as it is to tourists.

The map allows easy access to travel-related information, which is important considering that weather conditions in Iceland are known to change quickly.