Suspected Manslaughter in South Iceland

Cabins in South Iceland, Biskupstungur

Four men were arrested in a summer cabin area in Grímsnes, South Iceland, on Saturday in connection with the death of a fifth man, RÚV reports. Response workers who arrived at the scene to find a deceased man immediately suspected foul play.

Two of the arrested men are in custody until Wednesday and the other two until next Tuesday, April 30. South Iceland Police continue their investigation of the case with the assistance of the technical division of Reykjavík Metropolitan Police. Police continued to investigate at the scene of the incident yesterday.

The deceased and the four suspects are all Lithuanian, according to RÚV. The deceased was in his 30s.

Teen Dies in Þrengslavegur Car Crash

Small boat fishermen crowd the Arnarstapi harbour each summer for the coastal fishing season

An 18-year-old motorist has died after an accident on Þrengslavegur in South Iceland yesterday morning.

Vehicle veered off the road

The South Iceland Police was notified of a car accident at 8:38 AM yesterday on Þrengslavegur, which links the Ring Road to southern coastal towns. The vehicle veered off the road and rolled multiple times. Authorities temporarily closed Þrengslavegur for on-site operations.

The driver of the vehicle, who was 18 years old, was pronounced dead upon arrival at the National University Hospital. The identity of the driver has yet to be revealed.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the South Iceland Police and the Accident Investigation Board.

Suspect Detained in Connection With Selfoss Death Released

Selfoss - Suðurland - Ölfusá

The police in South Iceland have released one of the two men arrested in connection with the death of a young woman in Selfoss last week. The authorities are seeking extended custody over the other suspect.

Death at a private residence in Selfoss

Last Friday, two men in their twenties were arrested following the death of a woman at a private residence in Selfoss, South Iceland. Frímann Baldursson, Chief Inspector with the Selfoss Police, told Vísir at the time that the circumstances of the woman’s death remained “unclear” and that a preliminary investigation was underway.

Yesterday, the South Iceland Police announced that one of the men had been released from custody. The announcement also noted that the investigation into the woman’s death was still ongoing. The woman was named Sofia Sarmite Kolesnikova and she was 28 years old, Vísir reports.

“Recently, the police chief made a decision to release the second man from custody. A demand has been submitted to the district court for the other man to remain in custody, based on the interests of the investigation,” the announcement from the police reads.

Vísir also spoke to attorney Torfi Ragnar Sigurðsson, who is representing the young man who has been recently released from custody: “My client has been released from custody. The fact that he was released indicates that the police believe that he was not involved in the [woman’s death.]”

Two Men Detained Following Death of Young Woman in Selfoss

A woman in her twenties was found dead at a private residence in Selfoss yesterday. Two men, also in their twenties, have been detained by the police, Vísir reports.

Preliminary investigation underway

Two people were arrested yesterday following the death of a woman in her twenties at a private residence in Selfoss, South Iceland. Frímann Baldursson, Chief Inspector with the Selfoss Police, told Vísir that the circumstances of the death remain unclear and that a preliminary investigation was underway.

“There is a preliminary investigation underway. While we are investigating the case, two people are being held in custody. The circumstances are a bit unclear,” Frímann stated. As noted by Vísir, the South Iceland Police are being assisted by the technical department of the Capital Area Police, which is focused on determining how the woman’s death occurred.

RÚV reported on the story first.

Flights Cancelled, Passengers Unable to Disembark Due to High Winds

Gale-force winds and heavy snowshowers caused considerable disruptions for travellers on Sunday, Mbl.is and RÚV report. While most international flights were cancelled or delayed before they departed, however, eight flights from North America were already en route to Keflavík when the weather took a turn for the worst. The unfortunate passengers on seven of these flights were stuck in their planes for six or more hours, as it was too windy to use jet bridges for disembarkation.

On Sunday, the Met Office issued an orange warning for the west and southwest of Iceland, which experienced winds of 18-28 m/s [40-62 mph]; a yellow warning was issued for the rest of the country, where winds gusted at an ever-so-slightly calmer 18-25 m/s [40-55 mph].

Search and Rescue teams used a bus and another large vehicle to shelter an external stairway from the wind. Image via Lögreglan á Suðurnesjum, FB

Eight hundred passengers stranded in planes on runway

Eight airplanes transporting close to 800 passengers from North America landed at Keflavík on Sunday morning around 6:00 am. One of these planes, arriving from Newark, New Jersey, was able to disembark without issue. The other seven were not so lucky. The wind picked up and became too strong to allow for the use of jet bridges. Search and Rescue teams were called in to assist with the disembarking process.

As of 1:00 pm, only one plane’s passengers had been able to exit their aircraft. Search and Rescue teams managed to successfully evacuate the flight, which had flown in from Miami, Florida, by rolling an external stairway up to the pane, sheltering it from the wind with large vehicles, and rigging up a rope system to help passengers keep their balance as they went out into the frosty gusts.

At time of writing, Search and Rescue teams were still working diligently to evacuate the remaining airplanes, and do so as safely as possible.

Preparations Made to Recover Plane Crash Wreckage

missing plane Þingvellir

The wreckage from the plane that crashed in Lake Þingvallavatn in February will be recovered Friday, Vísir reports. Recovering the aircraft is vital to the ongoing investigation into why the plane—which did not have a black box—actually crashed.

The Cessna 172N, piloted by Haraldur Diego, went missing on February 3 after setting off on a two-hour sightseeing tour with three passengers from the US, the Netherlands, and Belgium respectively. What followed was one of the most extensive search and rescue efforts in recent memory, involving 1,000 individuals at its height. The wreck was eventually located and the bodies of the pilot and his three young passengers—John Neuman, 22; Tim Alings, 27; and Nicola Bellavia, 32—were brought up by divers from a depth of 37 metres [121 feet] and deeper. Difficult conditions and freezing temperatures further complicated the process: each diver was only permitted a single attempt per day and a total of 20 minutes in the water. Plans were made to haul out the plane itself as well, but these were postponed once conditions were determined to be too dangerous for the time being. The wreckage has remained on the bottom of the lake, at a depth of 50 metres [164 ft], ever since.

See Also: All Four Bodies Recovered from Lake Pingvallavatn

Work stations were set up by the lake today, with about 60 people set to take part in recovery operations. Although the plane’s been submerged for two months, its condition doesn’t appear to have changed. Rúnar Steingrímsson, an officer with the South Iceland Police, told reporters on Thursday afternoon that the situation is completely different from what it was in February. Conditions are much more temperate and Friday’s forecast is good.

“The barges, or at lest one of them, will probably be put out today [Thursday], and then everything will get started tomorrow,” he said. “People and the rest of the equipment will arrive on Friday morning.”

There will be five divers on hand to help with the recovery process. Besides being at a significant depth, the wreckage is also “some 1,800 metres [1.1 mi] from where we’ll be putting the equipment out,” said Rúnar. “The same place we were in last time. We’re just hoping it all goes well and that this is successful. We’ve been planning this for a long time. We went last week and photographed the plane again and it was in the same condition as when we left it. So everything seems to be good in that respect.”

“There’s a dive to the plane at this depth and then it will be hoisted up under barges and brought closer to land, within some five or six metres [16-20 ft], and then they’ll dive again and take out all the electronic equipment.”

If everything goes to plan, the aircraft will have been brought ashore by Friday evening.

Four Bodies Located in Þingvallavatn Lake

plane crash

Icelandic Coast Guard divers and special forces have located four bodies in Þingvallavatn lake, Southwest Iceland, where a plane crashed last Thursday. The Cessna 172N sightseeing plane, carrying one Icelandic pilot and three passengers, went missing last week, prompting extensive search efforts that eventually detected the plane underwater, and now the bodies. Crews are preparing to recover the bodies and the aircraft but must wait for weather conditions to improve.

Robot submarine located bodies

Crews located the bodies last night with the help of a Teledyne Gavia robot submarine. One is located at a depth of 37 metres [121 feet], and the other three are located further below the lake’s surface. The aircraft is at a depth of 48 metres [157 feet], around 800 metres [2,625 feet] from the shoreline of the lake.

Divers were prepared to recover the bodies yesterday when weather conditions began to deteriorate rapidly. A notice from police stated that the recovery efforts were delayed in order to ensure divers’ safety. The recovery mission will be carried out as soon as weather allows.

Relatives thank rescue crews

The sightseeing plane went missing after setting out on a two-hour trip on Thursday morning. Icelander Haraldur Diego, known as Volcano Pilot, was piloting the aircraft, transporting three tourists from the US, Netherlands, and Belgium. After extensive search efforts involving around 1,000 people, the plane was located on Saturday in Þingvallavatn lake. Further search efforts revealed that there were no bodies inside the aircraft, prompting the submarine search. The cause of the crash remains unknown.

The four individuals’ relatives, who have been informed that the bodies have been found, have expressed their thanks to rescue workers for their efforts over the past few days. South Iceland Police also thanked everyone who has lent a hand in the search and recovery efforts, while acknowledging that there is still much work ahead.

The four victims of the crash have been named in local newspaper Fréttablaðið. They are Icelandic pilot Haraldur Diego (49), Nicola Bellavia (32, from Belgium), John Neuman (22, from the United States), and Tim Alings (27, from the Netherlands).

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.”

Human Bone Found by Fishermen Identified

Selfoss - Suðurland - Ölfusá

Swedish forensic pathologists have identified an upper arm bone that was discovered by Icelandic sailors in their fishing gear three years ago, RÚV reports. The bone belonged to Guðmundur Geir Sveinsson, who is believed to have fallen into Ölfusá river on December 26, 2015. Another case involving the identification of a skull led police to reopen the case of the upper arm bone and finally trace its source.

When Guðmundur Geir (b. 1974) disappeared in 2015, South Iceland Police strongly suspected he had fallen into Ölfusá river from Selfoss cemetery. A search for Guðmundur was initiated, but it proved unsuccessful. The identification of the upper arm bone is the first concrete proof of what happened to him.

When fishermen discovered the bone three years ago, radiocarbon dating suggested that it belonged to an individual who had died between 2004-2007, and the investigation was ended. Another case of incorrect radiocarbon dating led to it being reopened.

Former MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir’s father, Jón Ólafsson, disappeared in 1987 on Christmas Eve. Jón skull was found 25 years ago, but radiocarbon dating led it to be wrongly identified. It was not until this January that reanalysis confirmed the skull belonged to Jón. That case led South Iceland Police to re-examine the upper arm bone, which led to its identification as Guðmundur Geir Sveinsson’s.

According to a notice from South Iceland Police, The upper arm bone was identified through comparison with DNA samples of Guðmundur’s relatives that had been collected at the time of his disappearance. “A meeting about this discovery has been held with the relatives and these earthly remains will be handed over to them in the next few days,” the notice states.

Bus Carrying Tourists Overturns

A bus carrying 23 tourists overturned on Mosfellsheiði heath between the town of Mosfellsbær and Þingvellir National Park in South Iceland on Tuesday afternoon, RÚV reports. Three passengers sustained minor injuries, but as all but one person on board was wearing a seat belt, no serious injuries were incurred.

According to a post on the South Iceland police’s Facebook page, slippery road conditions led to the event. A paramedic who is stationed at Þingvellir was the first on the scene. After he determined that none of the passengers was seriously injured, the priority was to transport them to the service centre Þingvellir to wait while emergency services arrived on the accident scene.

Another bus was sent to pick up the travellers at Þingvellir. All of them intended to resume their trip.