Today marks the ten year anniversary of the avalanche in Flateyri, in north western Iceland. On October 26, 1995, an avalanche hit 19 houses in Flateyri killing 20 people. Forty-five people were in the houses that were hit; four people were dug up from the ruins; 21 people were able to evacuate their houses themselves or with the help of neighbors.
For days the entire nation was paralyzed with shock. Morgunbladid covered the event with photographs of the deceased on the front page, interviews with survivors and reports from the rescue efforts. Immediately after the avalanche hit, 340 rescue workers were sent to the area.
In today’s edition of the Morgunbladid survivors are interviewed including one man, Atli Már Sigurdsson, who was trapped for over eight hours. He lost his father and brother in the avalanche; his mother and sister were attending a course in Reykjavík while another sister was in Akureyri.Atli Már, who was 14 at the time, describes how it took him 5 – 10 minutes after being hit to realize what had happened. He says he tried to make room for himself by pushing himself away from the snow which was 10 – 20 cm above him. The snow was very hard and thus Atli had virtually no space to move. He recounts after realizing what had happened loosing his composure. He tells Morgunbladid that he regularly screamed especially when he thought he heard someone walking above him. He said in those circumstances “you just pray that you will be saved”.
Today, Atli studies political science at the University of Iceland.
Before the avalanche 379 people lived in Flateyri, now Flateyri has a population of 300.