Police in Tromsø are investigating what now appears to be a murder-suicide involving a young immigrant mother and her three children. She’s suspected of leading them all into the icy waters surrounding the island city in Northern Norway Monday evening, killing herself and one seven-year-old daugher while her two other children were critically injured.
The apparent drownings and attempted drownings set off a massive search and rescue effort, after passersby noticed an abandoned baby carriage and footprints in the snow leading down to the sea. Emergency crews eventually pulled four people out of the water, as questions swirled over what had happened.
On Tuesday police confirmed that they suspect the mother tried to kill them all. Two surviving daughters, aged four and one, were rushed first to the University Hospital in Tromsø but then flown to Norway’s national hospital, Rikshospitalet, in Oslo, for treatment. They remained on life-support at midday Tuesday.
The mother and two older daughters are originally from Sudan and held temporary residence permission in Norway. The father of the children came to Norway in 2015 and the mother in 2017.
Police cautioned that their investigation was in the early stages, with no possible motive yet established and 10 witnesses questioned so far including the father. He was brought in for voluntary questioning after police picked him up at the family’s home in Tromsø. Local officials have set up a crisis team to assist him and others who knew the family.
Tromsø Mayor Gunnar Wilhelmsen called the incident “very sad and tragic. We must take care of one another in order to get through a day like this. In such situations, Tromsø becomes small, and folks are concerned about what has happened.”
The flag at the older girl’s school was lowered to half-mast Tuesday morning. “We must use today to speak with the other children,” Kari Henriksen, leader of education and culture for Tromsø, told state broadcaster NRK. “This affects absolutely everyone, the entire Tromsø community. It’s a sad day for us all.”