Committee to Investigate 1995 Suðavík Avalanche Skip to content

Committee to Investigate 1995 Suðavík Avalanche

By Yelena

Alþingi parliament of Iceland
Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

An investigative committee will review the government and civil protection department’s decisions in the lead-up to one of Iceland’s most fatal natural disasters, the 1995 Súðavík avalanche. Iceland’s Parliament has approved a motion to on April 30 to establish the committee, RÚV reports. The survivors of the disaster have been calling for such an investigation for nearly 30 years.

On January 16, 1995, an avalanche struck the Westfjords town of Súðavík, killing 14 people, including eight children, and injuring 12 others. Later that year, another avalanche hit the Westfjords town of Flateyri, resulting in 34 fatalities. The disasters greatly impacted the two small villages, as well as changing Icelandic attitudes toward avalanche safety and prevention.

Unanswered questions

The relatives and loved ones of those who died in the Súðavík avalanche have called for such an investigation since the tragedy occurred. They believe that many questions about the lead-up to the disaster remain unanswered, including regarding decision-making on avalanche barriers, how information was relayed to residents, zoning safety, and the operations of the civil protection department before and after the avalanche.

Read More: Avalanche Barriers in Iceland

The committee will consist of three members who will have a year to review and illuminate these issues. The statement on the committee’s formation asserts, however, that there is no suspicion that any criminal activity took place. Members of the government and opposition both expressed support for the investigation.

Read more about the 1995 avalanches in Súðavík and Flateyri in Iceland Review’s article After the Avalanche.

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