A search continued on Friday for the body of a fourth skier missing and believed frozen to death in the mountains above Sirdal, in western Norway. Three other skiers believed to be in a party of four were found dead and partially buried in snow on Thursday.
The tragedy in Vest-Agder County was unfolding less than a kilometer from a cabin that can be used by hikers and skiers at Traumevatn. Search and rescue crews believe the dead skiers had stayed there earlier in the week, then set off skiing again and got disoriented in a snowstorm.
There have been strong winds and extremely cold temperatures in the area, and police speculated the skiers got lost and froze to death. Two of the victims were from Germany, one from Switzerland and one from the UK.
The body of one of the victims was discovered by another skier passing by on Thursday, who first saw two ski poles sticking up from the snow. Upon further inspection, the passerby found the body of “a dead person, partially buried in the snow,” police inspector Egil Eriksen of the Rogaland Police District told news bureau NTB.
Search crews arrived quickly. They found a second dead body nearby, lying in a sleeping bag. A third body was found before the search was called off on Friday.
“It seems these are skiers who were surprised by very bad weather,” Eriksen told NTB. Four skiers had signed in at the nearby cabin operated by DNT, the Norwegian mountain trekking association, on February 12 and were believed to be skiing together.
Police also found a German-registered rental car abandoned near a trail head, which they believe was used by the ski tourists. No identification was found on the bodies of the victims, so police were tracing them through the rental car company.
A Sea King helicopter, two teams of search dogs, emergency crews from Øvre Sirdal and volunteers were taking part in the search, which uncovered four abandoned backpacks near the bodies of the three victims.