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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Death toll declines after confusion

Some better news has emerged after the deadly attacks in Oslo and on a nearby island last Friday: Police lowered the death toll from 93 to 76, attributing the drop to some apparent confusion in the hours after shooting on the island stopped, and to difficult search conditions.

The death toll from the bombing of Norway’s government headquarters in Oslo rose to eight while the number of bodies found after the subsequent massacre on the island of Utøya declined from 86 to 68, after all had been transported off the island to the mainland on Tuesday.

State police director Øystein Mæland noted that police investigators initially had confirmed that nine or 10 persons were killed by a lone gunman on the island where Norway’s Labour Party’s youth organization was holding its annual summer camp last week.

“But then they started finding many dead bodies and it was important to report that the death toll was significantly higher,” Mæland told reporters at a press conference Tuesday evening. That’s why the death toll was listed at 80 early Saturday morning and later rose to 86. It now appears some bodies were counted twice.

Mæland said search conditions have been difficult. The shocking nature of the massacre on Utøya meant there were bodies in the water, along the shoreline and then all over the island which he said has a “difficult” terrain. In addition, many of the gunman’s victims had tried to hide behind trees or rocks, in crevices or other sheltered areas, in the hopes of avoiding his deadly shots.

Mæland warned that the final death toll could rise again. Some campers remained missing on Tuesday and a search continued using mini-submarines in the surrounding waters of the Tyri Fjord.

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