Massive rescue operation due to a skiing accident on Vatnajökull glacier yesterday

When mbl.is heard from the rescue teams last night, they …

When mbl.is heard from the rescue teams last night, they were in the process of transporting from Vatnajökull glacier. mbl.is/RAX

A Coast Guard helicopter and the rescue team in Höfn were called out to yesterday afternoon to assist a woman who was injured while skiing at Grímsfjall on Vatnajökull glacier. She fell while skiing and was hit by a heavy baggage sledge to the head.

According to Ásgeir Erlendsson, the information officer of the Icelandic Coast Guard, the weather and visibility were not good, so neither the helicopter nor rescue workers from Höfn managed to reach the woman. The emergency call came around 3 o’clock yesterday.

The woman was on a skiing trip with a group, who placed her in a tent while they waited for rescuers.

ICE-SAR Landsbjörg/Óðinn Sigurðsson

Difficulties locating the group

The woman and the skiing group were not where the rescue team had anticipated and a group of rescue workers on snowmobiles went up Skálafellsjökull glacier to Grímsfjall searching for the group. Visibility was very poor and conditions difficult.

According to the group, the woman’s condition was stable when they made contact with the rescue teams while they were searching, but it was clear that she would not be able to get down by herself and needed to be to be transported down from the glacier.

There search area was vast

According to the Icelandic Coast Guard’s information officer Ásgeir Erlendsson, it was clear from the beginning that the glacier had to approached from two directions and the search was immediately expanded; including rescue teams from Hvolsvöllur and from the east of Höfn in Hornafjörður.

mbl.is/Árni Sæberg

A group from the east went up Skálafellsjökull glacier and set out on the glacier on snowmobiles, modified cars and a snowtruck. To the west rescue workers headed to Jökulheimar to intercept a snowmobile and to park in modified vehicles.

A Coast Guard helicopter was called out, but visibility was extremely poor so it did not manage to land.

The group still not found at 7:30 PM

The skiing group were still unaccounted for at 7:30 last night.

According to Jón Þór Víglundsson, information officer of the ICE-SAR, Landsbjörg, the location the team provided to rescue parties was not correct, but since all the group were Spanish speaking, there were also language barriers hindering communication.

Víglundsson says rescue parties made made contact with the group just after 9 PM last night and that they were not in bad condition, despite the weather. However, the locations obtained from the group were misleading, which stalled the operation.

Þessi stærsti jökull landsins þynntist að jafnaði um 45 metra …

Þessi stærsti jökull landsins þynntist að jafnaði um 45 metra á tímabilinu 1890-2019. Á sama tímabiliþynntist Langjökull að jafnaði um 66 metra og Hofsjökull um 56 metra. Myndin var tekin árið 2016. mbl.is/RAX

There were a number of rescue parties at the scene, but rescue teams from the capital area and from the East Fjords were called out to join rescue parties at the site. Víglundsson says visibility was very bad during the search.

Found just before midnight

It wasn’t until fifteen minutes to twelve at midnight that the group was found. Then the rescue teams had to prepare the group for transportation from the glacier. The injured woman was still stable at this time but she needed to be moved in a snowtruck to the ground to get her assistance.

Weather

Overcast

Today

8 °C

Overcast

Later today

9 °C

Partly cloudy

Tomorrow

12 °C