An extensive search is underway for a foreign tourist who fell into a river by Sveinsgil ravine, north of Torfajökull glacier in the southern Icelandic highlands last night, RÚV reports. The snow bank under which the man fell is about 6 m (20 feet) deep, and the depth of the snow is 20 m (66 feet) where it is the thickest. Two men were crossing the river on a snow ridge around 6 pm last night when the ridge gave way and the man fell in, according to RÚV.
Conditions for searching are very difficult and the search is physically very demanding, since rescuers must dig through the thick snow cover to reach the river. Two holes have already been dug and work has begun on the third one. About 30 people take part in digging at a time, and chain saws have also been employed. More than 200 rescue workers are in the area, divers among them. The Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter assists in transporting rested workers to the site and exhausted ones to Landmannalaugar where they are able to rest.
Sigurgeir Guðmundsson, a member of the regional management of Hella and Hvolsvöllur rescue teams, reports that the outlook is not good.
GSM connection is limited at the site and there is a significant amount of snow in the area. Rain, cold weather and poor visibility hamper rescue efforts. Rescue teams from South Iceland, Reykjanes peninsula, Borgarfjörður, Akranes and the greater Reykjavík area have been called out to participate in the largest search and rescue operation in the area in a long time.
Update at noon: The search is still underway.
The following photos from the search area were provided by ICE-SAR.