Extensive contribution from NPA Search and Rescue after catastrophic mudslide in Norway
Early in the morning, at 5.07 AM, the day before New Year's Eve, the alarm went off on the emergency line at NPA's Search and Rescue teams in southern Norway. A mudslide had been released in the middle of a residential area in Gjerdrum county, 40 km north of Oslo. The scope of the accident was unknown but the fact that this was a devastating catastrophe was immediately clear for NPA's voluntary Search and Rescue crews.
50 volunteers were immediately mobilized along with nine emergency ambulances and several ATVs from local NPA branches all over Southern Norway.
NPA's volunteer Search and Rescue crews was allocated to evacuate a local nursing home close to the mudslide area. A task made extremely complicated by the fact that the nursing home had an active Covid-19 outbreak, and it was important to carry out the evacuation in a manner that protected both the elderly and the volunteers from being exposed to infection.
It became clear that the situation in the mudslide area was too dangerous for rescue personnel to conduct search and rescue by foot. The volunteers from NPA was tasked with, in addition to the evacuation, registration of the evacuated at the reception centers and make sure that they were received with warm blankets and food.
NPA has also contributed with personnel around the clock in the Emergency Management Team together with all agencies and organisations in the Norwegian Rescue Service. They have been an important support and working under an enormous pressure, for the leadership of the extremely difficult and complex rescue operation.
The volunteers from NPA are still, after six days, in activity in Gjerdrum as they have been 24/7 since the alarm went off. Lately they have, among other things, contributed to sort the large amount of clothes and toys collected for the evacuated.
Crews from the following local NPA branches have participated: Lillehammer, Moelv and omegn, Rena, Vestre Toten/Gjøvik, Hadeland, Asker and Bærum, Odal, Lørenskog, Horten, Drammen and Sande, Oslo, Follo, Nedre Glomma, and Årdal.
- Happened around 04.00 AM December 30th 2020
- The mudslide was about 300x700 meters and 30 homes were destroyed
- Several people were rescued from their homes in or on the edge of the mudslide by the rescue service (mainly by helicopter)
- More than 1000 people have been evacuated from the area
- 7 people have been found dead, and 3 people are still missing (per 05.01.2021)
- Search methods include helicopters and drones with thermal cameras and eventually urban search specialists and search dogs on the ground