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Travel

New warning signs installed by Kirkjufjara beach where German woman drowned on January 9

By Staff

  • Chains and warning signs Previous attempts to warn travellers of dangerous conditions at the black sand beaches in South Iceland have been unsuccessful. Photo/Icelandic Environment Agency

The Icelandic Environment Agency has installed new warning signs by Kirkjufjara beach near Dyrhólaey peninsula near the village Vík in South Iceland. The sign warns visitors that the beach has been closed, and explain the danger. The Kirkjufjara beach has been closed for two reasons, the Icelandic Environment Agency explains in a public announcement: Heightened danger of rock slides from the cliffs around the beach, and danger posed by the powerful waves. 

Kirkjufjara beach, warning sign
Installing the new sign A work crew installed the signs earlier this week. Photo/Icelandic Environment Agency.

A new fence has been installed to close the beach and a new large signs explaining why the beach is closed have been installed at several locations, reminding visitors not to cross the fence.

Read more: Woman swept to sea at Reynisfjara beach earlier today has been pronounced dead

The beach was closed following the tragic death of a foreign traveller on January 9. A 47 year old German woman drowned after she was swept to sea while visiting the beach with her husband and two children. Last year a 40 year old Chinese man drowned at the nearby Reynisfjara beach.

Read more: Photos: People still toying with with death at Reynisfjara beach

In addition to the two fatal accidents there have been countless close calls at Reynisfjara and Kirkjufjara where visitors refuse to listen to warnings and venture too close to the waves.

Kirkjufjara beach, warning sign
Warning visitors of the danger The new sign at Kirkjufjara beach. Photo/Icelandic Environment Agency

 

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Nature

Videos capture conditions in Kirkjufjara on Monday when traveller was swept to sea

By Staff

  • Crashing waves The North Atlantic Ocean can be both beautiful and terrifying as it crashes ashore at the black sand beaches of South Iceland. Photo/Screenshot from video, see below.

Yesterday a 47 year old German woman was swept to the sea at Kirkjufjara beach in South Iceland. The tragic accident took place just before one in the afternoon. The woman was travelling with her family, husband and two children, when a wave crashed in, knocking all four off their feet. The husband and children managed to make it to safety, but the woman was swept to the sea. She was found an hour later, and airlifted to Reykjavík, but was pronounced dead upon arrival.

Read more: Woman swept to sea at Reynisfjara beach earlier today has been pronounced dead

The video below, shot by a local photographer, Þórir Kjartansson, who shared it to Facebook, shows conditions at Kirkjufjara beach. Þórir points out that the video also shows how oblivious travellers are when it comes to the danger posed by the ocean. The two children in the video were running around, without supervision, which made him extremely uneasy as the waves can be very unpredictable.

Read more: A toddler was narrowly rescued at Reynisfjara beach today. A German woman swept to sea

The video ends suddenly when Þórir thought one of the children was about to be knocked down by the waves. He ran off to ensure the child was safe. This is a scene he claims is all too common at the black sand beaches of South Iceland.

 

Þórir shot a second video of the waves at Dyrhólaey peninsula which shows conditions at the time of the accident.

Kirkjufjara beach is the west edge of Reynisfjara beach, closest to Dyrhóley peninsula. This is the second death at the beach in the past 12 months, and the third in 10 years. On February 10 2016 a 40 year old Chinese man was swept to sea at the east edge of Reynisfjara. Police responded to the accident by adding new, larger warning signs. However, this does not seem to be enough. 

Read more:Travellers stubbornly refuse to respect warning signs, venture onto closed Kirkjufjara beach

The waves are dangerous and unpredictable
One of the reasons for the accidents is that the waves are unpredictable. Even when the waves seem rather small and tame, one in 10, 15 or 20 waves can be far larger, crashing further up the beach than any of the previous waves. These monster waves can then knock people down and the undercurrent then pull them back out to sea. Once in the ocean it is nearly impossible to get back on your feet or to swim to safety. The experience of being stuck in the surf has been described as being inside a washing machine: You lose any sense of what direction is up or down or what direction the beach is.

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General

Travellers stubbornly refuse to respect warning signs, venture onto closed Kirkjufjara beach

By Staff

  • Stubbornly ignoring the warnings Police in South Iceland and local authorities don't have the funding to post a permanent guard to ensure the safety of travellers who ignore all warnings. Photo/Jóhann K. Jóhansson.

After yesterday's tragic accident at Kirkjufjara beach, when a 47 year old German woman died after being swept to sea, the Icelandic Environment Agency decided to close the beach. The decision was made to ensure safety of travellers, as conditions at the beach are still too dangerous, the agency determined.

Read more: Kirkjufjara beach closed to public following yesterday's accident

However, guides and other eye witnesses who have been at the beach report that travellers ignore the closing and continue to venture down into the beach. The photo above was taken by a local photographer which shows travellers on the wrong side of a police ribbon set up to indicate the beach has been closed. 

warning sign Reynisfjara beach

The warning signs New signs were installed at Reynisfjara beach following a 2016 drowning of a Chinese traveller. 

Last year a 40 year old Chinese traveller drowned at Reynisfjara beach after he was swept to the sea. New warning signs were posted at the beach, and police maintained a permanent guard at the beach for several weeks. Despite repeated warnings some travellers continued to venture far too close to the surf, leaving Police and ICE-SAR members at a loss as how to ensure the safety of travellers. 

Read more: Photos: People still toying with with death at Reynisfjara beach

The behaviour of some of these travellers left Police stunned. Shortly after the 2016 fatal accident Police stopped two men who thought it was a good idea to go for a swim in the ocean on Reynisfjara beach. The two men seemed "completely oblivious to the dangers" according to police. Foreign travellers have been rescued on several occasions after getting into danger when the powerful waves knocked them down, threatening to drag them to sea. 

Read more: Two travellers stopped when they planned to go for a swim on Reynisfjara beach

 

 

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