Police charged two Norwegians on Monday with breaking into a sealed bunker under a park in Oslo, and then hosting a party for more than 200 people that went very wrong over the weekend. More than 20 people ended up suffering carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator used to power music systems.
“They are so far charged with illegal entry and use of the bunker,” prosecutor Julie Wangensteen Lien told state broadcaster NRK. She added that more people may also be charged in the case as the police investigation progresses.
The so-called “rave” party, held at a time when debate has raged over parties that can spread Corona virus infection, had been promoted on social media. It ended with 27 people being sent to Oslo University Hospital late Saturday night after they inhaled carbon monoxide emitted from the generator that was providing power inside the bunker.
The bunker was originally built as an emergency shelter for local residents under the gounds of the St Hanshaugen Park, which is perched atop a hill in central Oslo. It had been sealed off when sold by local civil defense authorities and turned over in 2012 to the foundation that runs the adjacent Lovisenberg Hospital.
Several of those partying inside the bunker, which only had one small entrance and exit, suddenly began to feel dizzy and several passed out. Doctors later described at least six of the carbon monoxide poisoning victims as in serious condition, warning they would have died without receiving emergency care and oxygen. Three remained in intensive care on Monday.
Organizers of the party are being held responsible, according to police, but one of them has already expressed few if any regrets. He claimed on Norway’s nightly national newscast Dagsrevyen that the generator was mounted in an enclosed room “that had an airhole.” He claimed that the only reason carbon monoxide escaped into the rest of the bunker was because “someone opened the door to the room.” One woman who was at the party countered that she and others had entered the room, and found three people there unconscious.
Emergency crews warned that there could easily have been many fatalities at the party, not just because of the carbon monoxide danger but because so many people were inside a sealed space with only the one small entrance measuring one square meter in size. “Just think how 200 people would have needed to evacuate through that in case of fire,” Lars Magne Hovtun of the Oslo fire brigade told NRK. “It would have been an even bigger castastrophe, with dozens, if not hundreds dead.” Police had been tipped about the party, but said Monday that they’d lacked capacity to check it out earlier on an otherwise busy Saturday night that also included a stabbing and other loud parties.
Most of the party-goers in the bunker were aged 18-30. One of the young men recovering at Oslo University Hospital called the experience “unreal,” and admitted that going to a party in a sealed bunker “was stupid. But when you begin to drink, you also become less critical.”