Risky sports were fatal for foreigners
July 26, 2010
Four Ukrainians who drowned in the rapids of the Sjoa River over the weekend, and a Russian who died after jumping off the famous rock formation Kjerag, were all unfamiliar with the territory where the accidents occurred. Most of the deaths in the popular rafting river Sjoa have involved foreigners in recent years.
The four Ukrainians were among a group of 13 who set off in kayaks in a section of the Sjoa River that even the professionals avoid. Newspaper Aftenposten reported that six of the 13 ended up in the swirling waters of the Sjoa at the narrow and rocky area called Ridderspranget.
The website for local newspaper Gudbrandsdølen Dagningen reported that the Ukrainian ambassador to Norway visited survivors of the accident at a community center in Murudalen late Saturday night. The survivors were also offered help from a local crisis team and police.
‘Can’t stop them’
None of the commercial operators offering river rafting tours use the part of the river where the accident occurred, because it is considered too dangerous or impossible for rafting or kayaking.
“The accidents there since 1993 have all involved foreigners, with poor equipment and little knowledge of the area,” Tor Aamodt, who runs Heidal Rafting at Sjoa, told Aftenposten. He said none of the Ukrainians who died in the river on Saturday had been in contact with his firm or any other rafting experts in the area.
“Few set out on their own,” he said, claiming that most all the accidents involve those who do. “We can’t stop them, the rules allowing free access to the outdoors apply.”
Police told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that it would be impractical if not impossible for them to post warning signs or patrol the entire length of the river. The fatal accidents in recent years have involved tourists from Estonia, Great Britain, Austria and the Czech Republic.
BASE jumper killed
A Russian BASE jumper, meanwhile, was killed when he crashed into a mountainside after jumping off the famed Kjerag rock formation in Rogaland, western Norway. His body was retrieved by emergency crews involving both climbers and a Sea King helicopter.
The 24-year-old man was said to be an experienced BASE jumper but he had never jumped off Kjerag before and his parachute didn’t open until just before he struck the mountain wall.
Another woman was injured when she fell down an 80-meter cliff between Øygardstøl and Kjerag, also on Saturday. She suffered fractures and cuts and was rescued by a helicopter crew.