Reindeer herders fear as many as 200 reindeer were killed this week when an avalanche thundered down on an area where they were grazing in the mountains of Oppdal in Trøndelag, central Norway.
Nearly 40 dead reindeer had been found by Thursday evening as emergency crews tried to dig them out of the mounds of snow at Storhornet in Oppdal. Some animals were also found alive.
Herd owner Gustav Kant told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the avalanche is believed to have occurred on Monday. “I had a couple hundred animals up there,” Kant told NRK. “We don’t know how many were buried.”
Officials estimated the avalanche to be about a kilometer (500 meters) wide, with the masses of snow between two and nine meters deep. “No one can survive such a slide,” Kant said. “It sweeps through like a tornado.”
He called it “an animal tragedy” but added that “you can’t foresee such things when you work with animals in the nature.” It was the second avalanche in the past week in Oppdal, after an earlier one crashed down the mountains at Skarbekkdalen. Authorities believe it was set off by a heavy equipment preparing ski trails in the area.