3 British tourists die in Iceland crash, 4 severely hurt

EDS NOTE GRAPHIC CONTENT In this UGC photo provided by Tour guide Adolf Erlingsson on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018 a view of a crash, in Skeidararsandur, Iceland. An SUV carrying seven members of a British family plunged off a high bridge Thursday in Iceland, killing three people and critically injuring the others, authorities said. (Adolf Erlingsson via AP)
In this UGC photo provided by Tour guide Adolf Erlingsson on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018 , emergency services at the scene of a crash, in Skeidararsandur, Iceland. An SUV carrying seven members of a British family plunged off a high bridge Thursday in Iceland, killing three people and critically injuring the others, authorities said. (Adolf Erlingsson via AP)

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — An SUV carrying seven people from two British families plunged off a bridge Thursday in Iceland, killing three people and critically injuring the others, authorities said.

Icelandic police said one child was among the dead and two, aged 7 and 9, were among the injured. Police initially said the injured were from one family but updated the information later.

The crash occurred about 9.30 a.m. Thursday when the vehicle slammed through a railing on the one-lane bridge at Skeidararsandur, a vast sand plain in southern Iceland. The car landed on a rocky river bank.

Police say it remains unclear what caused the British driver to lose control of the vehicle but temperatures were around freezing at the time. The crash occurred before this North Atlantic island's sunrise at past 11 a.m.

Tour guide Adolf Erlingsson was among the first on the scene.

"It was horrible," he told The Associated Press. "The car seemed to have hit the ground many meters from where it stopped. We struggled getting everyone out."

Police only identified the victims as British; their names and ages have not been released. The four who survived were flown by helicopter to a hospital in Reykjavik.

Chief Superintendent of south Iceland Police Sveinn Kristjan Runarsson said the four people hospitalized have serious injuries.

"We haven't been able to talk to them about what happened," he said.

The crash took place on Road No. 1, which runs for 1,337 kilometers (830 miles) as it connects coastal towns and villages on this volcanic island of 350,000 people.

Iceland has seen a gigantic tourist boom in the last several years but its infrastructure has not always kept up. Roads are usually narrow, with many one-lane bridges.

Of the 18 people who have died in traffic crashes in Iceland this year, half of them have been foreign nationals. Last year was the first on record when more foreigners died than residents, according to the Icelandic Transport Authority.

This year 2.5 million tourists visited Iceland, compared with half a million in 2011, according to the Icelandic Tourist Board.

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