• Switzerland edition
 

Swiss aid survivors after Norway avalanche

Published: 20 Mar 2012 12:18 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Mar 2012 12:18 GMT+01:00

An avalanche that claimed the lives of four Swiss hikers and their French guide on Monday was the deadliest snow-slide in Norway in 26 years.

Not since the Vassdalen accident in 1986, which left 16 young Norwegian soldiers dead, have so many people perished in a single avalanche.

Survivors were transported to the university hospital in Tromsø on Monday. There they were offered professional counseling after the incident in nearby Kåfjord that left five of twelve hikers dead in a Swiss expedition led by two French guides.

Police do not yet know what triggered the violent slide on a mountainside in the far north of Norway.

The group was travelling on skis at a height of 1,000 metres when a vast snow mass descended on the Sorbmegaisa mountain, engulfing six people. Sorbmegaisa means "very dangerous mountain" in the indigenous Sami language.

In a major rescue operation, involving ground personnel, avalanche dogs and helicopters, one of the hikers was dug out alive.

Switzerland’s embassy in Sweden, which also represents the country’s interests in Norway, pledged to assist the survivors of the accident.

“We have sent a staff member from our embassy in Stockholm to Troms to support the survivors. We are also in constant contact with the Norwegian authorities,” Swiss foreign ministry spokeswoman Jenny Piaget told news agency NTB on Monday night.

"We want to express our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who died in this tragic accident,” she added in an email.

Police on Tuesday identified the five victims, amid criticism over the group's decision to ski in a dangerous area.

"The victims are a Frenchman and four Swiss nationals. We have identified them but we're not going to publish their names until we're sure that their next of kin have been informed," Tromsø police officer Morten Pettersen told AFP.

Around 30 rescue workers, assisted by dogs and several helicopters, were took part in the search-and-rescue operation, while F-16 fighter jets were also deployed to help with observations at the site.

A sixth member of the group -- a Swiss tourist in his 50s -- was dug out of the snow alive and taken to hospital, a hospital spokesman said.

"His injuries are moderate and his condition is stable," Jan Fredrik Frantzen told AFP.

Criticism arose on Tuesday over the group's decision to ski in the area.

The 12-member expedition had split into two six-person groups each made up of five Swiss nationals and one French guide. Only one of the groups was
caught in the avalanche.

"I would never have ventured into that area," said Eirik Braein Gikling, an expedition organiser quoted in daily Dagbladet.

"We hope the inquiry will provide us with some answers" on the possibly dangerous decision taken by the skiers, Pettersen said.

Avalanches are common in Norway at this time of year as blocks of snow and ice begin crumbling under the first rays of spring sun.

 


View Larger Map

The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.ch)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swiss researchers seek prehistoric Greek village
PlanetSolar sails through the Corinth Canal. Photo: Valerie Gache/AFP

Swiss researchers seek prehistoric Greek village

The world's largest solar boat, the catamaran PlanetSolar, will embark on a Greek mission to find one of the oldest sites inhabited by man in Europe, organizers in Switzerland said on Monday. READ  

Low-IQ ‘IT genius’ leads school computer theft
iMacs were among the computers stolen from nine schools. Photo: Jamie McCall

Low-IQ ‘IT genius’ leads school computer theft

A youth with an IQ of just 65 helped mastermind the theft of dozens of computers from schools in the canton of Vaud before reconfiguring them for sale at a Lausanne second-hand shop. READ  

Farms opt out of Swiss National Day brunch
Brunches are increasingly popular, despite the decline in farms taking part. Photo: SVB/Brunch.ch

Farms opt out of Swiss National Day brunch

The number of farms in Switzerland offering a traditional brunch as part of Swiss National Day celebrations has fallen by more than a third since the initiative began. READ  

Emmental takes the brunt in weekend storms
Storms uprooted trees and flooded villages in Emmental. Photo: Caroline Bishop

Emmental takes the brunt in weekend storms

The Emmental region is in the middle of a clear-up operation after further bad weather caused major damage over the weekend to the tune of four million francs ($4.4 million) READ  

Andujar aces Monaco to take Swiss Open title
Andujar holds his Gstaad trophy. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Andujar aces Monaco to take Swiss Open title

Spain's Pablo Andujar broke a title drought lasting for more than two years on Sunday as he defeated Argentine Juan Monaco 6-3, 7-5 to win the Swiss Open. READ  

Lausanne woman among Mali plane crash dead
The Air Algérie plane was en route to Algiers. Photo: Farouk Batiche/AFP

Lausanne woman among Mali plane crash dead

A communications officer from Lausanne is listed among the 118 people on board the Air Algérie plane which crashed in Mali on Thursday. READ  

Resting Wawrinka drops in on Swiss Open
Wawrinka recovered from illness shortly before Wimbledon. Photo: Andrew Yates/AFP

Resting Wawrinka drops in on Swiss Open

Stan Wawrinka confirmed on Friday that he is fit and ready for the final leg of the ATP season, starting with the Masters 1000 event in Canada. READ  

Swiss swimmer attempts river Rhine record
The Rhine flows through Basel. Photo: Michelle Kinsey Bruns

Swiss swimmer attempts river Rhine record

A man from Graübunden is attempting to swim the length of the river Rhine from its source to its mouth, a journey of 1,247 kilometres. READ  

Deal reached on Geneva airport construction
The agreement means Geneva airport's building work can go ahead. Photo: eguidetravel.com

Deal reached on Geneva airport construction

Environmentalists and residents groups have withdrawn their opposition to the renovation of Geneva airport’s east wing after an agreement was reached regarding the number of planes that may use it. READ  

New rules put damper on national day fireworks
Communes don't want to pay for fireworks training courses. Photo: Takashi Nishimura

New rules put damper on national day fireworks

Celebrations on Swiss National Day on August 1st may be more muted than usual this year after the government ruled that anyone running a fireworks display must undergo a costly training course. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Tech
Hackers exploit 'holes' in Swiss online banking systems: IT experts
Sport
Video of Bern football player's spectacular own goal goes global
Tech
Switzerland stays on top of innovation rankings for fourth year
National
Roger Federer and Lindsey Vonn play tennis at Jungfraujoch (VIDEOS)
Business & Money
Competition commission launches probe into Swiss car leasing 'fiddle'
Health
Down's syndrome cases in Switzerland more than double
National
American family files hefty lawsuit over deadly Swiss balloon crash
Features
Graubünden's panoramic Bernina Express celebrates rail history
National
Study rates Zurich as world's fifth most expensive city for expats
National
Swiss-based human brain project directors hit back at research critics
Business & Money
Switzerland gets the edge on EU with China free trade agreement
National
Entries for new Swiss national anthem competition swell over 200
National
Zurich-based helicopter firm denies role in Schumacher medical leak
Culture
Montreux Jazz Festival debuts live internet streaming of concerts
Features
Tour of Bern’s historic fountains tells story of Switzerland's capital
National
Swiss media lament football team's 'cruel' and 'bitter' defeat
International
The Local expands its reach with the launch of new website in Denmark
Sport
Jubilant press hails hat-trick hero Shaqiri as 'Swiss Messi'
National
New website study reveals inequality in Swiss disposable income
Travel
Switzerland’s largest ski area 4-Vallées breaks up over lift dispute
National
VIDEO: Zurich Zoo launches contest to name newborn baby elephant
Business & Money
CEO-to-worker pay gap grows at biggest Swiss firms: union study
Culture
VIDEO: Swiss performance artist plans naked stroll at Art Basel
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,153
jobs available