A French couple who escaped from their rental car on the Ring Road in Southeast Iceland on Sunday after a storm shattered the vehicle’s windows state that they had feared for their lives while seeking shelter at the side of the road.
“We were approaching Skaftafell when the wind picked up,” Marie Storm, who had been traveling in the region with her boyfriend since Friday, told Fréttablaðið. Squalls reached 30 to 40 meters per second.
Storm said they decided to stop the car after the sandstorm blocked visibility completely. They waited in the car for several minutes. “Suddenly a rock flew through the window, which exploded over us.”
Sand blew nonstop into the car and glass was shattered over them, cutting their hands. The couple therefore decided to leave the car and seek shelter on the side of the road. “We couldn’t see anything and sand and rocks rained over us. We couldn’t even open our eyes.”
The couple called the emergency hotline 112, who contacted search and rescue squad Kári in Öræfi, who were driving around the region in an armored car, picking up stranded commuters. They arrived a half an hour later.
Storm described the wait as unbearable. “It was a complete nightmare. We were in shock. We thought we would die.” Their eyes hurt after the ordeal and so they are planning to seek medical attention.
She maintained that they hadn’t seen any signs indicating that the road was closed.
The Icelandic Road Administration’s light sign had read ófært (‘impassable’) in Icelandic. The administration now intends to replace that word with ‘closed’ to catch the attention of foreign tourists.
Conditions remained stormy yesterday but the weather has now calmed.