Three boys out playing were caught in an avalanche that crashed down on their playground in the center of Hammerfest on Sunday. Special snow fences set up along the steep hillside behind the playground didn’t prevent the slide as expected, reported state broadcaster NRK on Monday.
Initial reports from the scene were alarming, with the boys believed to have suffered critical injuries and others feared buried under the mounds of snow. As it turned out, the boys aged seven to 13 were only slightly injured and no one else was caught in the avalanche.
It nonetheless set off concerns as to why the avalanche occurred despite all the precautions taken on the hillside above the playground and a residential apartment building. No less than seven fences were set up, but they weren’t enough to hold back the heavy snow.
“We’ll have to hear what the experts say,” said local city official Elisabeth Paulsen. Several were out in the terrain Monday morning, to study the avalanche that was roughly 70 meters side and high. If more fences are advised, they’ll be erected, she said.
Avalanche danger has been high all over Norway because of rapidly shifting temperatures, rain and wind. Warnings remained in effect for people to stay away from steep areas and be aware of changing weather conditions.