A foreign tourist was reported missing in the volcanic canyon Eldgjá in the southern highlands on Saturday afternoon after she failed to return to her tour bus. The driver waited for about one hour before notifying the police and continuing the tour.
Ófærufoss Waterfall in Eldgjá. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
Search and rescue were sent to the area shortly afterwards. However, the search was called off at 3 am when it turned out that the missing woman had been on the bus all along and even participated in the search for herself, mbl.is reports.
Before reentering the bus after the stop at Eldgjá, the woman had changed her clothes and freshened up, resulting in the other passengers not recognizing her.
According to information from the Coast Guard, a helicopter was ready to be sent to the area to assist with the search but the plans were put off due to foggy conditions. Around 50 people participated in the search on vehicles and by foot.
Chief of police in Hvolsvöllur Sveinn K. Rúnarsson told mbl.is that the woman was innocent of the mistake; the people on the bus hadn’t been counted correctly. She didn’t recognize the description of herself and “had no idea that she was missing.”
It isn’t often that people who are safe and sound are reported missing in Iceland but a similar incident occurred in 1954 when an extensive search was carried out for a young girl in a red coat who had been berry picking with a group of people but didn’t return with them. Or so they thought.
People searched for the girl for hours until it turned out that she wasn’t missing at all but had participated in the search herself. The misunderstanding was based on a false description of the girl’s clothing.