Iceland Mag

3 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

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Today marks 20 years since avalanche hit Súðavík, killing 14 people

By Staff

  • The avalanche in Flateyri Two deadly avalanches struck the Westfjords in 1995. One hit the town of Súðavík in January, killing 14, the other struck Flateyri in October, killing 20. Photo/GVA

Today marks 20 years since an avalanche, 600 metres (1968 ft) wide, struck the small fishing village of Súðavík in Iceland’s Westfjords.

The avalanche occurred at 6.25 am and destroyed fifteen homes, killing 14 people, including eight children. Twelve were rescued from the snow and rubble.

Extremely bad weather conditions made rescue work difficult and the possibility of another avalanche happening was quite high. Despite the dangers and horrible weather, rescue units and residents continued their search all through the day and the next night. Specially trained search dogs are thought to have played a crucial part in rescue efforts and saved several lives.

The tragic event shocked the nation and silent vigils were held all over the country in its wake. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, then president of Iceland, said the event reminded Icelanders that despite modern technology, we have no control over the powerful Icelandic nature.  

On 26 October that same year an avalanche struck the village of Flateyri, also in the Westfjords, destroying 29 homes and killing twenty people. 

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