Over 200 evacuated after avalanche in Svalbard

Avalanche on Svalbard.Longyearbyen.Avalanche on Svalbard. : Stringer / NTB scanpix

208 people have been evacuated after an avalanche in Longyearbyen. The figure is expected to rise as people sign up at the evacuation point.

Two buildings were taken by the avalanche, but none are missing or injured, the Governor at Svalbard Kjerstin Askholt said. According to the rescue centre , 13 people lived in the two houses. In addition, 75 people have been evacuated.

The buildings that were hit by the avalanche on Tuesday morning, contain several apartments and house permanent residents.

The Governor withdrew  the crew of avalanche area on Tuesday afternoon because of the danger of new avalanches. The danger level in the South and East of Svalbard was Tuesday measured at 4, while it is expected to fall to 3 on Wednesday and Thursday.

Roads closed

Roads 222, 224, 226 and 228 has been evacuated entirely. The top row of houses in road 230 have also been evacuated. Meanwhile, all stick roads in Hilmar Reksten Road from road 222 to 230, including Perleporten, have been closed.

According to Svalbardposten between 100 and 150 people quickly arrived with shovels and search equipment after the slide . Emergency vehicles and rescuers were also quickly on site. An evacuation center has been established at Rabalder Cafe at Kulturhuset.

– No notice

– I did not get any warning. There was a huge bang, and then the whole house moved, said resident Nils Lorentsen to the NRK. He ran to the bathroom window where he saw the great damage.

– Crushed scooters and sledges were thrown against the wall. The neighbour’s car was pushed into the neighbouring apartment, and the wall of my daughter’s house was torn apart. I then realized the forces, he said.

Frank Johnny Olsen also tells of dramatic scenes:

– The house shifted, glasses fell off the shelves and the kids were thrown across the room, he says. His house was completely destroyed.

The avalanche in Road 228 hit at least one building, close to Sugar Loaf. That is the same mountain where there was  a landslide in 2015, which killed a 42 year old man and a two year old girl .

According to the Meteorological department , the winds have reached low storm levels in Svalbard, but the wind is expected to decrease throughout the afternoon.


Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today