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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Two killed after Russian charity trip

An annual charity trip til Murmansk in Russia turned tragic for a group of humanitarian-minded Norwegians from Northern Norway, when their bus ran off the road on their way home. Two members of the group were killed and 10 others injured.

Local emergency services rang full catastrophe alarms after the chartered bus skidded off the E6 highway  and landed on its side nine kilometers north of Nordkjosbotn near the Balsfjord in Nord-Trøms early Monday morning. Eight persons were taken by ambulance to University Hospital for Northern Norway in Tromsø, and two persons were flown there by helicopter.

Another 18 persons were also taken to the hospital for medical checks, according to local police. Local newspaper Troms Folkeblad reported that the two persons who were killed, both men, were sitting in the back of the bus, which suffered the most damaged from its collision with a rocky protrusion on the side of the road.

News bureau NTB reported there were a total of 29 persons on the bus, which was returning from an annual charity aid mission to Murmansk, across the border of Northern Norway to Russia. Those on the bus were part of an organization called Aksjon Murmansk, which collects and delivers clothing and other items for needy residents of the Russian city.

“It had been a fine trip, and we were on our way home, and then we have this tragic ending,” one of the organizers of the trip told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

The group was from the town of Finnsnes in Troms County, and local officials said the accident hit the small community hard. One local pastor told NRK that because of all the friends and family members of the roughly 30 persons on board and the two killed, “it seems like everyone knew someone” involved in the trip. All were being offered trauma help and counseling through outreach programs.

Police said it was too early to determine the cause of the accident but noted that weather conditions, while chilly and damp, didn’t make the road particularly hazardous. One journalist for Troms Folkeblad who had been along on the trip told newspaper VG that the bus veered too far to the right of the highway and hit the gravel shoulder, causing it to tip over.

No other vehicles were involved in the accident, which occurred around 5am. Police said they had spoken with the driver of the bus but didn’t want to reveal the content of their conversation.

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