Flags were flying at half-mast on Monday in the coastal community of Hareid, southwest of Ålesund, after three sisters from Oslo were struck by lightning while climbing to the summit of Melshornet. Two of the sisters, aged 12 and 18, were killed and the third badly injured.
All were active in the Oslo sports club Heming, known for nurturing top-level athletes. The victims were identified as Victoria Myrset (age 12) and her sister Benedicte Myrset (18). Their surviving sister was flown to Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen.
“They were here on holiday and have ties to the area,” Hareid Mayor Bernt Brandal, told state broadcaster NRK on Monday. “This is extra difficult when children are involved.”
The coastal mountain of Melshornet, elevation 655 meters (2,100 feet), is a popular hiking destination among local residents. The hike up takes around two hours and the tragedy occurred near the summit, after the day’s warm sunny weather suddenly turned into a lightning- and thunderstorm. NRK reported that the injured sister had been able to contact emergency services, which in turn sent an air ambulance and a search and rescue helicopter to the site. The rescue mission itself was risky because of what was described as “violent” weather.
“This is a terrible tragedy for the family and a huge loss for our school,” Torill Røeggen, rector of the high school Ullern VGS in Oslo where Benedicte studied. “This is a very sad day.” The family’s local church at Ris in Oslo planned to open Monday evening from 6pm for all those seeking comfort.