Shovels, tractors, dogs, lights, and over 100 rescue personnel were used to dig through tons of snow searching for victims Saturday after a large avalanche smashed into houses in the remote island chain of Svalbard, Norway. One man as killed and 9 others were sent to the hospital with injuries. Four of the injuries were children. One of those children is in serious condition along with one adult. 10 houses were hit by the avalanche.
The avalanche occurred at 11am (sun does not show above the horizon from late November to mid-February) coming off of Sukkertoppen Moutnain crashing into the town of Longyearbyen, the main settlement on Svalbard. The avalanche ripped houess off their foundations, flipped cars, and buried people under many feet of snow.
“This is a very serious situation and we already have a tragic outcome. We still have no complete overview.” – Svalbard Governor Kjerstin Askholt told Norwegian broadcaster NRK
A 44-year-old woman was buried by the avalanche and was dug up by rescuers. She was banging on a microwave to alert rescuers to her location. She is among the hospitalized.
The storm that hit Svalbard was ferocious. It ripped the roof off the local school and threw it into the soccer field. 60mph winds were associated with this storm and the local newspaper called the storm the worst in 30 years.
Svalbard is an archipelago located 500 miles north of the Norwegian mainland and 600 miles south of the North Pole. Svalbard is known for it’s gorgeous mountains, fjords, glaciers, and great skiing. 2,600 people live in the island chain.