Avalanche kills man skiing in Lofoten

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A Norwegian man in his 40s was killed when he was caught in an avalanche on the steep slopes near Kleppstad at Vågan in Lofoten Sunday afternoon. Warnings had been up all week for high avalanche danger all over the country.

Another man out skiing with the victim had alerted police to the avalanche around 5pm, with Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reporting that he had witnessed the snow crashing down on his friend. Search and rescue crews responded immediately but were hampered by the extreme danger of more avalanches in the area, making it too dangerous to search for the man in the mounds of snow.

‘Demanding operation’
“It was a demanding operation with high risk of more slides,” police operations leader Jon-Inge Moen told NRK. “It therefore took a while before we could reach the site.”

The victim was not immediately identified but was said to be a Norwegian citizen living abroad. His body was recovered around an hour after the avalanche occurred. Efforts made at the site to save his life were unsuccessful.

NRK reportes many ski tracks leading into the area but the man was the only person swept away by the avalanche in the mountain area at Vågan called Sydalsfjellet.

More calls for help
Police in Nordland responded to several avalanches in the northern county during the Easter holidays. Several people were involved in another avalanche in Lofoten on Saturday but they were all saved. Newspaper VG reported that at least one of the avalanches had been unleashed by foreign tourists out skiing in steep areas with heavy snow.

Another avalanche victim was dug out from mounds of snow at Riksgrensen on Saturday and saved. Yet emergency call came Sunday morning after an avalanche at Fagernesfjellet in Narvik, but no one was caught in it.

Heavy snows, shifting temperatures and wind have made avalanche danger acute during the past week, especially in Northern Norway, where traffic in Finnmark has been paralyzed after slides or the danger of them closed roads and major highways all over the country. Many communities were completely isolated for several days, with access to Honningsvåg and the North Cape reopening on Sunday.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund