UPDATED: Three people out rowing in a boat on a mountain lake with a dog on board were swept away Sunday evening by a strong current that leads straight into a waterfall and then the rapids of a river below. A family member witnessed the accident, and all three remained missing Monday evening. By Tuesday morning, they were presume dead.
Search and rescue crews first found an oar Monday morning, then a boat at the bottom of the waterfall and some pieces of clothing. The three people who’d attempted to cross the lake called Longvotnovatnet, in the mountains just west of Nordheimsund in Hardanger, had been visiting a hytte in the area.
It was raining heavily and getting dark when they set off in the rowboat with the dog. The three missing were described as two men and a woman all living in Askøy, west of Bergen, and all Norwegian citizens.
Police and emergency crews were still calling it a search and rescue operation on Monday, but it’s viewed as difficult if not impossible to survive a fall down the waterfall and deep gorge known as Tokagjelet. On Tuesday morning, police confirmed it was no longer a rescue operation, indicating that crews were now searching for bodies.
Håkon Wilhelmsen, who owns a hytte in the area known as Kvamskogen, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that they’d always been told since they were children not to row too far down the lake towards Tokagjelet, “because you can be taken by the current.”
The steep terrain and rushing water also made search and rescue efforts difficult. Searches were also being carried out farther down the river and in the fjord at Norheimsund, as far as nine kilometers from the side of the accident.