Risk Assessment to Be Conducted at Reynisfjara

The dangerous Reynisfjara beach will see a risk assessment conducted by the government. Reynisfjara is a popular travel destination nearby Vík in South Iceland. It has an immensely strong undertow, and waves that creep quickly upon travellers, threatening to snatch travellers out to sea. The risk evaluation will focus on both the strong tide as well as rockfall in the area. If the changes go through, the police will have the option to close the beach on dangerous days. A warning mast is also to be placed at the beach.

Three traveller deaths

Reynisfjara has claimed three lives since 2007, with many more close calls. The area is clearly marked with warning signs, and tour guides place great emphasis on safety in the area. This week, a number of travellers were swept into the water. The tide has also pinned travellers down in a small cave in the area.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Innovation Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir leads the project, which will be performed by the police in South Iceland. The police intend to work alongside the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration, The Icelandic Met Office and the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management.

“It’s unacceptable that there’s a risk of a massive accident in one of the most popular tourist locations in the country, without the necessary arrangements in place. Certain improvements have been made, but the responsibility for the case is complicated as well as the fact that travellers often ignore warnings, putting themselves at great risk. This is why we recommend that a risk evaluation be performed and, based on that, the police can close the area when needed, which should in all likelihood not be more than five to seven days per year,” said Minister Þórdís Kolbrún.

Possible closures

The closures on the beach would prevent further accidents. It is expected that they would take place in extreme weather, with a strong tide, between November to March. A wave prediction system, as well as an alert system, will be placed in Reynisfjara, which has been in the works since 2017. The Icelandic Tourist Board sanctioned the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration to install the systems. The system is already available at the Icelandic Met Office’s website, and the information can be found on the Safe Travel websites. The project will be completed with the construction of a mast on the beach which will flash a warning light at times of danger. A permit from all of the landowners in the area, which number around 250 in total, is needed for the mast.

The beach is considered one of the most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world, with clear black sand, basalt columns, and the view of the Reynisdrangar rock formation. The beach is a two and half hour drive away from Reykjavík. The sneaker waves in the area pose a danger to travellers, who are advised to stand at least 30 metres away from the waves.

Visit www.safetravel.is for further information regarding travel safety, as well as www.road.is for the newest updates on road conditions.

Visitors Ignoring Reynisfjara Closure, Despite Ongoing Risk

The rockslide that took place at Reynisfjara beach in South Iceland has now been measured at 100 m [328 ft] wide and 50 m [164 ft] in length, running from the base of Reynisfjall mountain and out into the sea. RÚV reports that the largest boulders on the scene were measured at 3 m [9.8 ft] in diameter. The overall volume of the scree has been estimated at 25,000 cubic m [882,867 cubic ft].

The rockslide having been so enormous, it’s considered quite a bit of luck that no one was injured in the event. Close to the village of Vík í Mýrdal, Reynisfjara’s black sand beach is one of the most popular traveller destinations in Iceland and home to the Reynisdrangar sea stacks as well as basalt columns inside a cave on the beach. Strong undercurrents and so-called ‘sneaker waves’ make the beautiful destination a dangerous one, too, however, and despite prominent signage and travel advisories, a number of visitors have come to harm on the beautiful shore. In the most serious instances, an American woman died in May 2007 when caught by a wave, and a Chinese man lost his life when he was swept out to sea in February 2016.

It is, then, unfortunate but not unexpected that police in South Iceland has been forced to monitor the beach and kick out visitors who have chosen to ignore police tape indicating that the area is closed for the time being. Inspector Sigurður Sigurbjörnsson said that he found around thirty tourists in a very dangerous spot on the beach near the rockslide on Wednesday, just a day after the event took place.

Conditions are being monitored at Reynisfjara and it is expected that there will be another rockslide on Reynisfjall mountain in the coming days. Visible fissures on the mountain’s surface are being monitored, but it’s hard to predict precisely when the next rockslide will occur. Iceland’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management plans to keep the beach east of Hálsanefshelli cave closed at least until today, Friday, August 23, when a decision will be made about what – possibly permanent – precautions are needed going forward.

Large Rockslide in Reynisfjara Beach

A large rockslide fell from Reynisfjall mountain onto Reynisfjara beach this morning. The easternmost part of the beach, which is a popular tourist destination, has been closed off by the police. The rest of the beach remains open. Travellers are asked to respect the closure, as a number of travellers were spotted crossing the yellow police border which zoned off the area. The area which the rockslide fell on is often filled with travellers. Luckily, it is not known that there were any travellers in the area at the time.

A policeman from the South Iceland police arrived at the scene this morning and witnessed the remains of the rockslide, which appears to have been significant in size. The Icelandic Met Office has dispatched an avalanche watch employee to inspect the area. Sveinn Brynjólfsson, from the avalanche watch, stated that the rock is clearly unstable. “We will try to assess it today and figure out whether there are more fractures which rock could fall from,” Sveinn stated that rock slides fall from the mountain quite regularly and that the weather is not directly connected to the event. “Large rock slides have fallen from the area which faces the populated areas,” he stated.

Yesterday, a number of rocks fell down from the mountain onto the beach and at least three visitors were injured. Among them was a child which injured its foot and a young male who sustained a head injury. The injuries are not considered severe at this point in time. Today’s rock slide is believed to have been at the very least several tons. The sea closest to the area where the rock slide fell has turned a brown colour.

https://www.facebook.com/logreglasudurland/videos/679821225824713/?__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARCOlZ1t1Pjlk9OI2PHW-MggMkJS40z1l6jH9i_oTraR4GaM0T6b22-lsAq6Aacje2CgKWLd6zTA4qIALBQfqKIvddlKQshZhuzhSUDUgf2LaTFVajGtMaSybcfYbXG7UsmI92DofFQNORSCFH54uXVkB-Z4KqmsJjmoPoX1wzpPAs8TQThz8DGOv_kQMxIjXPERBI2VsLNqF7A-shaCmHBSIPb2KUrJeXlu8YVu6Ed0PemMnP_2lVhkLPEcSVvIUYm3czoADmOsZU1FeJorMOCshM65Ct8CmCDk5p0udEEwefqXrnpYBp5ZYmRTiwxmNZWHYJx54sClYeP46phMlw5EpP87h0uTrD4&__tn__=-R.
The video shows the area yesterday after a number of rocks fell down the steep slope onto the beach. Today’s rock slide was significantly larger

A popular yet dangerous destination
The black sand Reynisfjara beach is one of the most popular traveller destinations in Iceland. Situated in South Iceland, close to Vík í Mýrdal, it is home to the Reynisdrangar sea stacks not far from the shore as well as basalt columns inside a cave on the beach. The ripper waves in the area are especially dangerous, so travellers are advised to stay out of the water. In 2016, a fatal accident took place as a Chinese traveller lost his life after having been ripped out to sea.