Avalanche kills four in Nordland

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UPDATED: Police in  Nordland County in northern Norway were prohibiting access to mountain areas after four persons were killed by an avalanche. Two were declared dead on Tuesday after initially being missing, while two more were seriously injured, but all search and rescue efforts were delayed for fear of more snow- and rockslides.

These aerial photos shown on NRK late Monday morning show the path of the avalanche, which was estimated to be about a kilometer long. PHOTO: NRK

A group of eight persons out skiing in the area Sunday afternoon were caught by the sudden avalanche in the area around Jamtfjelltind, not far from Mosjøen. Four of them were trapped by the slide that was set off by rapidly melting snow, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

NRK broke into coverage of 17th of May celebrations to report on the fatal avalanche, and this NRK map shows its location.

Two were confirmed dead on Monday and two others were declared dead later, victims of the avalanche that was nearly a kilometer long and an estimated 60 meters wide.

There is no mobile telephone coverage in the area, and when survivors tried to make their way back to the nearest road, they were hemmed in by a new avalanche. The avalanche thus wasn’t reported until some of the survivors finally managed to send up an emergency flare, which was spotted by a helicopter crew from the locally based 330-squadron.

One helicopter pilot told NRK that he could see more avalanches crashing down mountainsides in the area. Police ordered a halt to further search and rescue operations, and prohibited access to the area, because of the danger. Some small communities were isolated by snow- and rockslides on Tuesday.

Operations leader Egil Pettersen of the Helgeland Police District said two of the survivors were injured, one seriously, and they were finally taken to hospital in Mo i Rana. All of those in the group were aged between 30 and 50, with seven from the Mosjøen area and one from Brønnøysund.

Flags were lowered to half-mast in Mosjøen on Monday, and several 17th of May celebrations were cancelled as the city went into mourning. Local officials quickly set up crisis teams to help families of the dead.

Views and News staff