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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Fatal grounding sparks criticism

Norwegian maritime authorities were the target of criticism over the weekend after a private boat grounded on the remains of an old sea beacon off the coast of Sunnmøre Friday night. Three people on the boat were killed in the grounding, and two others injured.

Their boat, a 23-foot pleasure craft, collided with the concrete foundation of what used to be a sjømerke (maritime beacon or, literally, seamarker) at Lepsøyrevet, not far from Ålesund. The beacon was destroyed in a hurricane in the early 1990s and never replaced.

Residents along the coast told reporters over the weekend that they’ve been warning maritime authorities (Kystverket) about the need for a new marker, claiming there have been other near-accidents. A Kystverket spokesman responded that boaters are supposed to stay within a marked sea lane in the area and that a new marker at the old spot could cause confusion.

The boat carrying six persons Friday night was outside the sea lane when it rammed the unmarked concrete base in the dark around 10pm Friday, and started taking in water. Two men and a woman were killed in the grounding, two persons from the boat were found alive in the water and another managed to swim to land. Two of the dead were identified as Janne Elise Jørgensen, age 37, and Bjørn Leif Flem, age 40. The body of the third victim, 17-year-old Holger André Flåten Løkka, was found Sunday after an extensive search. They were from Ålesund and Longva.

Memorial gatherings were held for the victims both in Ålesund and on the island of Haramsøy on Sunday and crisis teams were set up to aid survivors.

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