UPDATE: Police confirmed Sunday afternoon that a woman believed to be a tourist was found dead after apparently falling into the waterfall known as Vøringsfossen in western Norway. The waterfall is one of Norway’s most popular tourist attractions between Oslo and Bergen, but has been the target of safety concerns for years.
The woman’s death is the third in the past five years. “We’re told she fell near a viewing point but we’re uncertain which one,” Hans Egil Berge, operations leaders for the Hordaland Police District, told state broadcaster NRK. Police later confirmed the woman was a Russian in her 50s that and her body had been retrieved.
Police said that an English-speaking person had called the state emergency phone number to report that a woman had fallen into the waterfall, which has a free fall from the western end of the Hardanger mountain plateau down to the rocks below of around 145 meters (nearly 500 feet).
An air ambulance was sent to the scene along with police and a conventional ambulance. Janne Steinler Sætre of the Hordaland Police told NRK the woman was found dead around 4pm.
Vøringsfossen is located in the municipality of Eidfjord along the scenic Highway 7 that crosses the Hardanger plateau before winding down to the Hardanger Fjord. Sunday’s fatal accident raised new security concerns at the popular tourist attraction following two other fatalities in the past five years. News bureau NTB reported that in 2011, a woman from Austria who had ventured into an unsecured area was having her photo taken when she took a step backwards and plunged to her death over the edge. In 2009, a Russian bus driver fell to his death at the falls.
Warning signs are posted in several places but there are no fences at many of the viewing points. The mayor of Eidfjord told NTB that security enhancements were approved in a new zoning plan last spring and that a safety project would get underway this fall or next spring in cooperation with the state highway department.
“The goal isn’t to secure the whole area but only some of the viewing points,” Mayor Anved Johan Tveit told NTB. “Some of them will be fenced in, others will be secured by other means, but tourists will still need to be careful because we can never manage to make the Norwegian nature completely safe.” The project has a budget of NOK 150 million (USD 25 million).