Rescue Operation Resumes for Man in Grindavík Crevasse

Grindavík - Þorbjörn

The search for a man who fell into a crevasse in Grindavík on Wednesday is set to resume today, RÚV reports. The operation was paused due to safety concerns from rockfall.

What happened?

The town of Grindavík was evacuated on November 10 amid powerful seismic activity. Earthquakes and the formation of a magma dike under the town opened crevasses and damaged roads, homes, and infrastructure in and around Grindavík. (A short, but powerful eruption occurred northeast of the town between December 18 and 21 and volcanologists say that another could occur soon.)

After the evacuation was lifted, construction workers began filling in the crevasses in town, as business operations resumed. On Wednesday, a man who was finalising work on one of the crevasses went missing. After his tools were discovered by a colleague near the crevasse, rescue workers began searching for the man.

Why was the search paused?

The search for the man was paused before midnight yesterday, after continuous efforts since Wednesday, due to the inability to ensure the safety of rescuers in the crevasse owing to rockfall. But the search will continue today.

Read More: Out of Harm’s Way (The Evacuation of Grindavík in Photos)

“At around midnight last night, we had to stop the search because we could not guarantee the safety of those working down in the crevasse,” Úlfar stated in a conversation with RÚV this morning. “There was rockfall within the crevasse.”

Despite the shifting of rocks and debris within the crevasse yesterday, rescuers did not suffer any injuries. The conditions for the search are, however, highly challenging.

As noted by RÚV, efforts have been made to widen the opening of the crevasse, which is narrow. This has limited the search to only two people being able to descend into the crevasse at a time.

Updated at 20:17. The search for the man has been called off.

Man Rescued Near Eruption Site Following SOS Signal

Reykjanes eruption Iceland eruption

The Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter and rescue teams were called out last night to search for a man near the eruption area who had sent a distress signal to a passing aeroplane. The man was subsequently found, cold and exhausted.

SOS signal sent near Litli-Hrútur

At around 8.30 PM yesterday, pilot Ernir Snær Bjarnason, flying a small private plane over Litli-Hrútur – the site of a former eruption site on the Reykjanes peninsula (and not far from the site of the current eruption) – spotted an SOS signal.

Ernir informed a control tower, which then relayed the information to the operations centre in Suðurnes. Jón Þór Víglundsson, a spokesperson for Landsbjörg, told Vísir yesterday that the SOS signal may have been sent from a phone, possibly using a dedicated smartphone app (Ernir later stated that he believed the man had used a flashlight):

“The signal involves a sequence of light flashes: three short, three long, and three short bursts, with brief pauses in between. This sequence is recognized internationally as an SOS signal,” Jón Þór explained yesterday.

Two people initially believed to have sent the signal

Following this alert, the helicopter of the Icelandic Coast Guard, alongside a sizeable rescue team, was deployed to the area, which had experienced frost and a significant drop in temperature. Meanwhile, Ernir and his copilot circled above the distress signal for an hour, or until the helicopter swooped down to rescue the man. 

At ca. 9.30 PM yesterday, Ásgeir Erlendsson, a spokesperson for the Icelandic Coast Guard, confirmed that the man had been located between Keilir and Kistufell. The man was cold and exhausted and transported back to Reykjavik for medical care. He had left his equipment behind with flashing lights, which initially led to the belief that there were two people who had sent the SOS signal.

In an interview published on Vísir just before midnight yesterday, Ernir stated that the Icelandic Coast Guard had conjectured that the man would likely have died from exposure had Ernir not spotted the SOS signal.

Woman Detained in Connection With Man’s Death in Reykjavík

police station reykjavík

A woman in her thirties has been placed in custody after a man was discovered deceased in an apartment building in Reykjavík last Saturday, Vísir reports. No further details on the investigation have been released.

Resuscitation efforts proved futile

On Saturday evening, the Capital Area Police was notified of an incident in an apartment building in East Reykjavík, Vísir reports.

Upon their arrival, the police discovered a non-responsive man in his fifties. Despite immediate resuscitation efforts, the man was later pronounced dead at the National Hospital.

A woman in her thirties was subsequently arrested and taken into custody. Yesterday, the Reykjavik District Court granted the Capital Area Police’s request, based on investigative interests, for the woman to remain in custody until September 27.

As per a police announcement, further details regarding the ongoing investigation will not be disclosed at this juncture.

This is the fourth time this year that a person has been placed under custody in a suspected murder case.

Man Drowns Following Accident at Westman Islands Harbour

The driver of the vehicle that went into the harbour in Westman Islands yesterday evening has been pronounced dead, RÚV reports. The police have launched an investigation into the incident.

Resuscitation attempts unsuccessful

At 8.18 PM yesterday, the Westman Islands police were notified of a vehicle that had been driven into the Nausthamarsbryggja harbour in the Westman Islands. Speaking to RÚV, Chief Inspector Jóhannes Ólafsson stated that a crew member of a local fishing boat, which was on its way to the port, had placed the call.

A response team was immediately dispatched, and a diver was sent to retrieve the vehicle’s driver, who was alone in the car and unconscious. Despite quick reactions from the authorities, resuscitation attempts proved unsuccessful, and the man was pronounced dead. According to an announcement from the police, an investigation has been launched into the causes of the accident.

Man Killed in Avalanche in North Iceland Yesterday

fatal accident Iceland

A man died in an avalanche in Svarfaðardalur in North Iceland yesterday. The man was travelling with two others, both of whom sustained severe injuries.

“Well-equipped, experienced mountaineers”

Three American men, born in 1988, were caught in an avalanche in Svarfaðardalur, North Iceland, yesterday.

After one of them notified emergency responders (at 19:10 yesterday), an emergency helicopter was dispatched, along with rescue teams from Dalvík, Siglufjörður, and Akureyri.

According to a FB post by the police in Northeast Iceland, the three men were “well-equipped, experienced mountaineers,” and all of them sustained severe injuries; one of the men was pronounced dead on the scene.

Further detail not available

The other two men were transported to a hospital in Akureyri, with one later being taken to the National University Hospital in Reykjavík. Details on their condition have not been made public.

Approximately 130 rescue workers took part in the search, which concluded shortly before midnight.

“It took some time to gather information about the man’s family in the US,” the police in Northeast Iceland stated. “Once we had obtained that information, the US Embassy helped inform the man’s loved ones about his death. The deceased was single and had no children.”

An investigation into the events is underway.