A group of ponies have died after falling through ice and drowning in Iceland.

Local press have reported that 12 ponies were found in Bessastaðatjörn lake in the Reykjavík suburb of Álftanes last week (Sunday 21 December).

Five of the ponies belonged to riding tours company Ishestar, while the rest belonged to members of local equestrian club Sóti.

The ponies’ owners noticed that they were missing from the herd when they went to bring them into their stables. The group were only discovered when they were spotted by a helicopter from the Icelandic coastguard.

All of the bodies were recovered from the lake on Monday 22 December. Helicopters were used to help to remove the frozen carcasses.

It was initially thought that the group had accidently wandered onto the ice, which had then collapsed. But Ishestar’s Einar Bollason told H&H that he believed fireworks had caused the accident.

“They were shooting fireworks in a nearby house before the incident and that, as everybody knows is more than enough to spook any horse.

“It is most likely that they just off and ran out onto the ice, which then gave in.”

The lake had steep banks, which meant that once the ponies fell in they were unable to get out.

Mr Bollason added this incident was “very tragic” and that it would take a while for the staff to recover from the shock.

“People bond with these horses over the summer,” he said. “We have owned some of them for about 15 years.

“I told my staff, ‘Thank God these weren’t our children,’ but this is the closest you can get.”

The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority has also been involved in the investigations.