More than 20 children were among 33 persons injured in a major chain collision on the E18 highway just north of Tønsberg Friday afternoon. Seven more motorists were injured and taken to emergency rooms in Follo after another chain collision on the E6 highway south of Oslo. Both accidents, along with several more, were linked to slippery roads.
Witnesses said children riding in a bus that was involved in the Tønsberg crash were “bloody and crying” as rescue workers attended to them at the chaotic scene. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that 22 children and 11 adults were rushed to hospital or local emergency rooms after the collision that involved at least 15 vehicles. They included the bus, several automobiles and at least two trucks.
The collision occurred both in and near the Hem tunnel in the southbound lanes of the main four-lane divided highway. Conditions were described as “terribly slippery” by one of the motorists who was among the first to arrive at the scene and stop to help victims. Sophie Nyrerød said she had been driving at a speed of only around 40-50 kilometers an hour (25-30mph) on the highway because of the slick conditions. It had been snowing most of the day in the area.
“To me, it looked like some vehicles crashed inside the tunnel and then others tried to stop outside the tunnel,” Nyrerød told NRK. “I had problems braking myself.”
Marit Helnes, another motorist who stopped to help, said she called Norway’s emergency number 113 and than acted on instinct. “I ran towards the bus,” she told NRK. “At first it was completely quiet but then some shocked and crying children started coming out. Many of them were bloody. My most important job was to comfort them.”
Bound for Risør
NRK reported that the children on the bus were from an elementary school in Risør, farther south along the coast, and were returning home after spending the week at a leirskole (an educational camp where children learn outdoor skills).
Nyrerød said many of the children suffered facial lacerations, and appeared to be around 10 years old. NRK reported that administrators at the school were calling around to the children’s families and that a crisis center was being set up in Risør.
Helicopters helped take the injured to local hospitals. The E18 highway was closed in both directions but reopened by early evening.
Police issue warnings
In the Follo crash on the other wide of the Oslo Fjord, four vehicles were towed away and seven persons were taken to an emergency room after a chain collision in the Follo tunnel. The southbound lanes of the E6 remained closed at 5pm but northbound lanes reopened.
Police were warning of extremely slippery roads in the area and urging motorists to drive at slower speeds. They reported several other collisions Friday afternoon, at Mastemyr and in the Nordby Tunnel.
NRK reported five accidents on the E6 between Oslo and Sarpsborg within an hour on Friday afternoon.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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