Avalanche isolates hundreds in Senja

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More than 350 residents of Senja in Troms County, Northern Norway, were isolated for the third day in a row over the weekend because of avalanche danger on the only road leading into their communities. On Saturday, tons of snow and rock did indeed crash down on County Road 232, and again on Sunday.

The avalanche Sunday morning set off a major search and rescue operation because of fears that a vehicle was trapped under it despite the road’s closure earlier. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported at midday that Red Cross crews working with specially trained dogs had cleared the area, however, after finding no signs of victims after all.

The avalanche covered 100 meters of the road in Kaperdalen on Senja, a large island south of Tromsø. Newspaper Nordlys had reported on observations of a car’s tire tracks leading into the slide area and not out of it, but a spokesman for the Troms Police District later confirmed that no one was caught under the snow, mud and rock.

The residents of Sifjord, Grunnfarnes, Flakstadvåg and Kaldfarnes had been isolated from Thursday until Saturday. On Thursday evening, two avalanches rumbled down a nearby mountain and the state highway department (Statens vegvesen) closed the road because of high avalanche danger. The area borders on the Ånderdalen National Park.

Avalanche danger was also high in the Lyngen Alps and at Kåfjord in Troms. Farther south, in Svolvær at Lofoten, an avalanche roared down the west side of the mountain known as Blåtind. Officials feared four people were caught in it, but one of them called search and rescue crews to report they were not in danger.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund