As thousands of foreign tourists stream into Norway for the summer season come warnings that they’re overrepresented in accident statistics. Germans out fishing are especially vulnerable, as are mountain hikers and extreme sports fans.
“Everyone who comes to Norway should get an information pamphlet about the dangers of the sea along the Norwegian coast,” Hagen Schneider, a German who survived 16 hours hanging onto his small overturned fishing boat, told magazine A-magasinet recently. He ignored rough seas to go fishing off the southwestern coast between Jæren and Lista last fall, and barely lived to tell about it after a sudden, strong wave hit the size of the boat he’d rented.
Nearly 10 percent of all deaths in pleasure boat accidents in Norway are foreigners, reports Norway’s maritime directorate. It blames a lack of good seamanship and lack of familiarity with harsh conditions off the Norwegian coast, where the waters are cold, the current strong and the weather can change quickly.
In the past few years, Ukranians have died in rafting accidents, Germans have fallen overboard from fishing boats and French skiers have died after setting off avalanches. Dutch and British hikers have gone missing in the mountains. There even have been fatal accidents at seemingly safe spots like waterfall lookouts, where, for example, an Austrian woman stepped backwards while her husband took her picture, and fell over the cliff. A Russian bus driver lost his footing and fell into a waterfall.
Schneider planned to come back to Norway this summer. “Now I’ve learned,” he said. “I won’t make the same mistakes again.”