Significant Rainfall in South Iceland May Flood Jökulsá River, Destroy Temporary Bridge

Bridge over Jökulsá in Sólheimasandur

Significant rainfall is expected over the next 24 hours around the Eyjafjallajökull glacier in South Iceland and may cause considerable flooding on the Jökulsá river. The Road and Coastal Administration will be monitoring conditions along the Ring Road and bridges in the vicinity, but it is uncertain whether the temporary bridge crossing the Jökulsá river where it runs through the Sólheimasandur flood plain will withstand rising waters. This per an announcement made by the Road and Coastal Administration on Tuesday night.

Construction is currently underway on a new bridge over the Jökulsá at Sólheimasandur and in the meantime, traffic is being diverted onto a temporary bridge. The administration is currently hard at work deepening the riverbed and making other preparations that will hopefully prevent major flooding. Nevertheless, the temporary bridge may not survive significant water rising. In the event that the temporary bridge becomes impassable, traffic east of Skógar will be redirected onto the new bridge and a system of alternating green lights will allow traffic to travel in both directions.

The Road and Coastal Administration notes that railing has not yet been finished along the new bridge so if it is necessary for travellers to use it, the speed limit will be temporarily reduced as a safety precaution. Drivers are asked to heed any such speed reductions.

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for South Iceland and expects heavy rainfall in the entire region, but especially around Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers. Travellers whose journeys are expected to take them over unbridged rivers are advised to reconsider their travel plans at this time as these rivers may be very difficult to cross or completely impassable.

Updates about road conditions can be found on the Road and Coastal Administration website, here, or by calling 1777 to get the most up-to-date conditions at any time.

Tourists Died of Exposure, Preliminary Autopsy Suggests

Sólheimasandur

Preliminary autopsy results suggest that the two Chinese tourists who were discovered on Sólheimasandur on January 16 died of exposure. Weather conditions at the time were extreme.

According to a statement released by the South Iceland Police today, no foul play is suspected in the deaths of two Chinese tourists – a man born in 1997 and a woman born in 1999 – who were discovered on Sólheimasandur last week. The deceased were friends who were studying in Britain. The pair’s family arrived in Iceland on Sunday. The police met with them at the Chinese Embassy on Monday.

Police authorities will continue their investigation to shed further light on the pair’s travels. The police expect a full autopsy diagnosis to be issued in the coming weeks.

Two Bodies Discovered on Sólheimasandur

Plane Wreck

The bodies of two Chinese tourists were discovered on Sólheimasandur in South Iceland yesterday, Vísir reports. One hundred fifty metres separated the bodies, which were found not far from the DC plane wreck.

150 metres apart

Police authorities in South Iceland received a report of the body of a young woman on Sólheimasandur, near the path to the DC plane wreck, at just past noon yesterday. At 2 pm, the body of a young man was discovered roughly 150 metres from the first body. The cause of their deaths remains unknown; the police are awaiting autopsy results.

Police believe that the pair were travelling together and that they may have died from exposure. A rental car was found at the Sólheimasandur parking lot. The vehicle had passed through Hvolsvöllur at just past 3 pm on Monday, January 13. The car’s windows were broken. Weather conditions on Monday were extreme.

An unusual discovery

In an interview with Vísir, Oddur Árnason, chief constable of the South Iceland Police, stated that the discovery was unusual; the pair was in their twenties, and their bodies were found 150 metres apart.

“It’s unusual to find two bodies in open country,” the constable stated.

According to Oddur, the police arrived on the scene immediately after being notified. It is believed that the pair died from exposure.

“We know that they passed traffic cameras on Hvolsvellir on Monday at around 3 pm and that on Monday and Tuesday the weather was egregious, which offers some clues. We don’t want to make assumptions, however.”

The Chinese Embassy has been notified of the discovery.

This article was updated at 11:08 am.