Work crews accidentally dug into a water main at Voldsløkka in Oslo Monday afternoon, sending torrents of water south towards downtown and flooding the major Ring 2 east-west artery during the height of the commuter rush. Six major bus lines were disrupted and police closed Ring 2.
Water was as high as signposts in some areas after water gushed from around 3:45pm until emergency crews managed to plug the pipe at 5:15pm. Officials described it as a major leak, and closed streets from Sognsveien in the west to Vogts gate in the east, including the portion of Ring 2 that runs along Ullevål University Sykehus.
The neighbourhoods of Sagene, Torshov and south to Grünerløkka were among those most affected. Witnesses said that the rush of water was so strong that some motorists heading north on Uelands Gate quickly made U-turns and drove against traffic to escape the torrent coming at them.
“It’s a main pipe, a so-called 400-millimeter water main, that’s been damaged,” Erik Henriksen of the city’s water and sewage department told state broadcaster NRK. Major cross-town bus lines 20, 21, 28, 34, 37 and 54 were all disrupted, causing major delays all over Oslo.
There was also a fear that the water would freeze before receding, since temperatures dropped on Monday. “It’s clear that sub-freezing temperatures can create thick ice for a long time,” said Vidar Pederson, operations leader for the Oslo police. Housing and commercial buildings in the area were also vulnerable to flooded cellars.