A woman in her 50s and a man in his 30s died on Saturday in an avalanche on the Arctic island of Jan Mayen. They were civilian employees in the Armed Forces.
The police in Nordland informed about the avalanche in Borgdalen on Jan Mayen in a press release late Saturday night.
– Three people were on a trip in the area when the landslide occurred. They were colleagues, but had time off and were out training for an expedition, says police operations manager Remi Johansen to VG.
The three people were employed at the Armed Forces station on Jan Mayen, reports the Armed Forces on its website. During the winter, 18 people are stationed at the base, and the crew is changed every six months.
According to Knut Grandhagen, who is head of communications in the Cyber Defense, the actual landslide happened around 13.50 on Saturday. Two of the three hikers were taken by the avalanche, while the third got loose and was notified.
– The personnel at the station then started a rescue operation and went up to the avalanche area. There they searched through the avalanche and found the two missing. Life-saving first aid was implemented, but their lives could not be saved. The two were confirmed dead at 19 on Saturday, he writes in a press release.
Jan Mayen is located in the Norwegian Sea, about 1000 kilometers west of Norway, north of Iceland towards the Greenland Sea. The island is almost 380 square kilometers in size, and has belonged to Norway since 1930.
– Now my thoughts and sympathy go first and foremost to the relatives, the close, small community on Jan Mayen – but also to friends and colleagues in the Armed Forces. It hurts when we are hit by such tragedies, says Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen in a statement.
Chief of Defense Eirik Kristoffersen also says in the press release that he has received the death message with grief.
– Our people do an important job there every day, on Norwegian territory, but still far from home. My thoughts go to the relatives and friends of the deceased and to their closest colleagues. All of us in the Armed Forces think of you and feel with you in this sad time, he says.
In addition to the Armed Forces base, Norway also has a weather station on Jan Mayen. Most people on the island work at two of those stations.
– There is a small group of people who work there for six months at a time. These deaths are something that affects the whole of Jan Mayen now, says operations manager in Nordland police district Remi Johansen to VG.
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To NTB, he says that it is unclear when the two dead, who come from Vestland and Nordland county, can be flown back to the mainland.
The Armed Forces’ operational headquarters has put a C-130J Hercules transport aircraft on standby to be able to support the station. Two Coast Guard vessels have also been diverted to provide helicopter support to Jan Mayen.