Three Brits including child killed in Iceland bridge crash

Emergency services at the scene of a crash, in Skeidararsandur, Iceland.  Picture: Adolf Erlingsson via AP
Emergency services at the scene of a crash, in Skeidararsandur, Iceland. Picture: Adolf Erlingsson via AP
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Three British tourists, including a child, have died after the 4x4 they were in crashed off a bridge in Iceland.

The accident happened at around 9.30am on Thursday when the Toyota Land Cruiser carrying seven passengers crashed through a railing of a one-lane bridge in the south of the country before falling around eight metres onto a river bank.

Police said one child was among the dead and two among the injured in the crash which took place on a 200-300 metre bridge on the national Route 1 road near Skeidararsandur, a vast sand plain in southern Iceland.

The four injured were airlifted to hospital in the capital Reykjavik with serious injuries and police are not sure when they will be able to quiz them about how the driver lost control of the vehicle.

Police said the road was not thought to be icy but humidity could have made the surface slippery for the SUV, which was driving eastbound over the bridge in Nupsvotn, just south of the Vatnajokull glacier.

Chief Superintendent of south Iceland Police Sveinn Kristjan Runarsson said the four injured have been taken to hospital with serious injuries, but added that “we haven’t been able to talk to them about what happened”.

He said it was not clear whether the seven people were related.

Tour guide Adolf Erlingsson, who was among the first on the scene, told the Associated Press: “It was horrible. The car seemed to have hit the ground many metres from where it stopped. We struggled getting everyone out.”

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Erlingsson said the SUV was a “total wreck” when he arrived at the crash site.

He said: “Four people were out of the car, one of them deceased. Then there were three people trapped in the car and I think two of them were deceased.

“The driver was alive and trapped more or less under the dashboard.

“It was a horrible sight to come there and see the wreckage and people there.”

He said rescuers used a winch and another SUV to lift the car up and try to save the driver.

Mr Erlingsson added: “We were trying to get the people out of the car and helping them. It was a very difficult situation.

“Soon after I arrived, we had an SUV with a winch and we used it to lift the car up a little bit to alleviate the pressure on the driver and to try and get him out.”

He said he spoke to some people who were “semi-conscious” outside the vehicle, and added: “I tried to talk a bit to the driver to calm him down. He was trapped inside the car.”

Mr Erlingsson said the crash occurred in an area that was “the most popular destination on the south coast”.

The crash happened just south of Skaftafell National Park, part of the Vatnajokull National Park, which was nominated for inclusion in Unesco’s World Heritage List in 2018.

The Vatnajokull glacier is the largest in Europe, covering 8% of Iceland’s landmass including the island’s tallest peak Hvannadalshnjukur at 2,200 metres tall (7,218ft).

Tourists flock to the area to enjoy hiking, camping and sightseeing flights.

South of the national park is the Skeidararsandur, a vast sand plain formed from alluvial deposits, with little vegetation, with the Nupsvotn glacial lakes on its western boundary.