UPDATED: Norway’s Parliament building (Storting) was evacuated Thursday afternoon after what officials called “a major short-circuit of explosive character.” There were reports of smoke but no fire even though fire alarms were ringing on three floors of the historic structure.
Members of Parliament and others in the building reported hearing a loud explosion and then the power went out. The building was quickly evacuated and emergency crews including ambulances started arriving at the scene, but there were no reported injuries.
Jorunn Nilsen of the Parliament’s press office told VG Nett that the electrical blast occurred in a technical room in the cellar of the parliament. “Everyone is now out of the building,” Nilsen told VG shortly after 2pm.
Ole Berget, communications adviser for the Progress Party, said he was on the fourth floor of the building when they heard “some noise. Rumours say it came from a below a manhole cover (called a kumlokk). Everyone is very calm.”
Occupants of the building were evacuated to an open area on nearby Prinsens gate. Other politicians told Norwegian Broadcasting that they were sent to various nearby office buildings. Some of those surrounding the Parliament building were also said to be without power, however.
Britt Børve, operations leader for the Oslo Police District, told NRK that the short-circuit burst a cable and sparked the power cut. “There are no suspicions that anyone was behind this,” Børve said. She added that it wasn’t dangerous to be in the area and Storting employees could return to work when power was restored.
Per Sandberg, a Member of Parliament for the Progress Party, told VG he understood there was still no power by 2:30pm and all computer systems were knocked offline, “so maybe we’ll just get the rest of the day off.” That didn’t happen: Power was restored by 3pm and all the politicians and their aides could go back to work.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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