Health chief updates casualty figures

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There was a great deal of confusion when police and emergency workers initially started releasing the numbers of dead and wounded following the July 22 terrorist attacks in Norway. Now Norwegian health care officials have released new details but the death toll stands at 77.

Bjørn-Inge Larsen, head of the Norwegian Directorate of Health, reported that six persons remain at Oslo University Hospital, all of them with serious injuries. Two of them were shot on the island of Utøya in the massacre that left 69 dead, while the other four were badly injured when the gunman on Utøya set off a powerful bomb in Norway’s government complex in Oslo that killed eight. The injuries of the bombing survivors are no longer believed to be life-threatening.

159 injured or wounded
Most of the other injured and wounded have been released from hospital, while some have been transferred to hospitals in their home communities, or to rehabilitation centers for further treatment. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) has reported that all told, 159 persons were injured or wounded in the terrorist attacks.

Newspaper Aftenposten, meanwhile, reported Tuesday that Larsen has released details showing that of the 69 persons killed in the massacre, 65 died on the island after being shot. One person drowned while trying to swim from the island to the mainland, two died on the pier on the mainland that serves the ferry to the island, and one person shot on Utøya was later declared dead at Ullevål University Hospital in Oslo.

All the roughly 500 others who were on Utøya when the shooting started either swam to safety or escaped the gunman’s bullets by hiding or fleeing in the few available boats on the island, according to Larsen.

Island re-opened
Police, meanwhile, have now fully released the island after concluding their technical investigations at the scene of the massacre. The island was turned over to its owner, the Labour Party’s youth organization AUF, for weekend memorial ceremonies and now is officially open to the public as well.

Former AUF leader Martin Henriksen, who now heads the owning entity Utøya AS, urged the public to refrain from visiting the island, however, until all survivors and bereaved families have had a chance to do so. More than 1,500 persons visited during the weekend, but not all who were directly affected by the masscre.

Henriksen said AUF can’t stop anyone from going on the island, but hopes the public will listen to AUF’s request to wait with any visits out of respect for survivors.

Henriksen could confirm, meanwhile, that AUF now has received funding commitments of nearly NOK 21 million to finance rebuilding and improvements to facilities used for AUF’s annual summer camp, which the organization intends to continue to operate on the island.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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