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Three British tourists die in Iceland crash after SUV plunges off bridge

An SUV carrying seven members of a British family plunged off a high bridge overnight in Iceland, killing three people and critically injuring the others, authorities said.

Icelandic police said one child was among the dead and two were among the injured.

The accident occurred about 9.30 a.m. Thursday (local time) 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 accident occurred hours before this North Atlantic island saw sunrise, which hit the capital, Reykjavik, at 11:23 a.m. Thursday.
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 metres 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.

The accident took place on Road No. 1, which runs for 1,337 kilometers  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 accidents 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.

Emergency services at the scene of a crash, in Skeidararsandur, Iceland.
Emergency services at the scene of a crash, in Skeidararsandur, Iceland. Source: Associated Press