From Iceland — Company Leads Tourists On Snowmobile Tour On A Glacier, Requiring Rescue From Storm

Company Leads Tourists On Snowmobile Tour On A Glacier, Requiring Rescue From Storm

Published January 8, 2020

Photo by
Landsbjörg

39 tourists, including several children, needed to be rescued from atop Langjökull glacier yesterday, RÚV reports, when their snowmobile tour was caught in a storm. Several of them have reportedly sustained injuries from frostbite, and a meteorologist tells reporters that a severe weather warning was issued long before the tour began. Police are now investigating the matter.

About 200 rescue workers hurried to the scene when the distress call was made just before 22:00 yesterday evening. It took great effort to pick up these unfortunate tourists and get them into shelter, complicated by very poor visibility and many closed roads in the area.

While there were thankfully no casualties, some of them suffered from frostbite on their fingers, and one woman needed to be transported to hospital. They had reportedly been on the glacier for several hours.

Elín Björk Jónasdóttir, a meteorologist at the Icelandic Met Office, told reporters that the tour company in question—Mountaineers of Iceland—should have been well aware that weather conditions were going to get worse. As reported, news of an impending storm was sent out earlier yesterday morning, and by midday, flights and bus service had been cancelled.

This is not the first time Mountaineers of Iceland has been in the news for reported mismanagement of a snowmobile tour. In 2017, an Australian couple sued the company for allegedly abandoning them on Langjökull and leaving them trapped in a storm for seven hours.

A reporter for Fréttablaðið attempted to get a comment from Mountaineers of Iceland, and were told by tour guide Ólafur Tryggva­son that they were “looking into the issue” but otherwise had nothing to say. The reporter made several more attempts to call the company before being told by Ólafur to “shut the hell up”.

Fréttablaðið also reports that South Iceland police have been interviewing survivors as they were being rescued, and the matter is being investigated.

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