Briton rescues wife and children from glacial river

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A Briton saved the lives of his wife and children after they fell into a glacial river in Iceland.

A Briton saved the lives of his wife and children after they fell into a glacial river in Iceland.

Benjamin Harding, 48, pulled his wife, Anna, 13-year-old daughter, Claire, and 11-year-old son, Sam, to safety after they fell through a crack in the ice into the fast-flowing river.

The children held on to their 47-year-old mother as she sank below the water for several minutes before Mr Harding, from Holloway, north London, dragged her out unconscious.

A park ranger who was called to the scene, Gunnoaugur Thorpergsson, said yesterday: "It was a narrow and fast-flowing section of river and the river was 20 to 30 metres deep so they could not stand up. They were lucky not to have been pulled under the glacier.

"The water temperature was zero degrees centigrade or below and if the family had been in much longer they could have all died of hypothermia. What Mr Harding did was heroic and the children were also very brave."

The incident happened on Tuesday when the family were visiting the glacier known as the Skaftafellsjokull in a national park in the south-east of Iceland.

Mr Harding's son was walking along the ice-covered bank when he slipped into the water. His wife and daughter, who were only a few feet away, tumbled in when they tried to help. Mr Harding, who was more than 50 yards away, raced over when he heard their desperate cries and jumped into the water to drag each of his family to the bank.

Another tourist, a nurse, helped Mr Harding resuscitate his wife while her fiancé ran to alert park rangers.

Mr Thorpergsson said: "By the time we got there, Mrs Harding was breathing, though very faintly.

"I waited for the emergency services while Mr Harding and the children were taken inside and given dry clothes."

Mrs Harding was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Reykjavik and treated for hypothermia, he said.

A police spokesman said: "She seems to be in better health and will probably travel home at the weekend."