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Visitors at Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon ignore all warnings: An accident waiting to happen

By Staff

  • Ignoring the warnings Local guides and authorities worry that it is only a question of time before a serious accident takes place at the lagoon. Photo/Ragnhildur Lind Bogadóttir, Facebook.

Guides and staff at Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon are worried that it is only a matter question of time when a serious accident happens at the lagoon. Visitors seem determined to ignore all warnings, venturing out onto unsafe ice floats on the lagoon. 

Happens whenever the ice reaches the shore
Recently a sign which had warned visitors not to venture out onto floating ice was moved from the parking lot to the coast of the lagoon. Ragnhildur Lind Borgarsdóttir, he manager of the Jökulsárlón café, took the above photo which shows that this appears to have zero effect. The photo was shared to a Facebook group used by people in the Icelandic tourism industry where it sparked a liverly discussion about the dangers at the lagoon. 

Read more: Travellers in danger on Jökulsárlón: Police urges people not to venture onto unsafe ice

Ragnhildur told the National Broadcasting Service that the ice appears to have a magical pull on the visitors: Whenever the ice packs up along the shore visitors venture out onto the lagoon:

"The sign was moved to the spot where the ice usually packs up at the coast, but people don't seem to pay any attention. When we pointed out to these people how dangerous it was to go out onto the ice they just talked back and argued, claiming they were just taking photos. They returned back onto shore, but not before taking their sweet time." 

The ice is not safe

Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon

At Jökulsárlón Staff at the site also tried to warne people it was not safe to walk out onto the ice. Photo/Ragnhildur Lind Bogadóttir, Facebook

The ice might look safe enough to venture out, but looks can be deceiving. The ice is never frozen solid because the water in the lagoon is in constant movement. Tidal effects cause the water to flow in and out of the lagoon. This means the ice is constantly breaking apart, creating shifting holes and cracks which are covered with thin ice or snow. If anyone were to fall in through one of these cracks or holes they could be then be trapped under the ice.

"There is nothing we can doe if there is an accident out on the lagoon. If someone falls through a crack or plunges in if ice flips over it, anyone following would most likely suffer the same fate. We are in a remote area, and it will take a long time for rescue personnel to arrive."

Short of posting a permanent guard and a rescue unit at the lagoon there is very little which can be done, other than warn people not to engage in reckless behavior. Warning signs and stern warning from guides or staff at the businesses at the lagoon seem to have no effect, as Ragnhildur points out. 

"This kind of thing happens every day the ice reaches the shore. Fortunately people always venture as far out as they did on Sunday, when dozens of people of people had walked out onto the ice." 

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