Suspect Detained Following Súðavík Stabbing

missing woman

A man was arrested in Súðavík yesterday for allegedly stabbing another man, who is now out of critical condition after receiving treatment. The Westfjords Police are seeking to remand the suspect in custody as their investigation continues.

Victim’s condition stable

The Westfjords Police were notified about an altercation involving a knife at a private residence in Súðavík just before midnight yesterday. Police and paramedics immediately responded to the call, arresting a young man at the scene who was suspected of stabbing another man.

According to a statement on the Westfjords Police’s Facebook page, the victim, who was initially in critical condition, was transported to the Westfjords Health Institute in Ísafjörður and then flown to the National University Hospital in Reykjavík for treatment. Police report that his condition is stable.

The Chief of Police in the Westfjords intends to request that the suspect be remanded in custody by the Westfjords District Court today, in the interest of the investigation. The investigation is in its early stages; no further information is available.

This article was updated at 1.37 PM.

Committee to Investigate 1995 Suðavík Avalanche

Alþingi parliament of Iceland

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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No Injuries in Súðavík Avalanches

The road along Súðavíkurhlíð and Eyrarhlíð in the Westfjords was closed on Sunday evening due to risk of avalanches, RÚV reports. The Road and Coastal Administration says several avalanches fell on the mountainside above the road during the closure but could not report their exact number. The local council leader of Súðavíkurhreppur says if road infrastructure is not improved, it is only a matter of time until a traveller gets hit by an avalanche.

Twenty-eight people who had been heading north found themselves stuck in the town of Súðavík overnight when the roads were closed for more than 12 hours yesterday. It was no easy matter to arrange accommodations for them in the town of 160, especially considering the current social restrictions, says council leader Bragi Þór Thoroddsen. “There is covid going on and there is a 10-person gathering limit,” Bragi stated. “I think we divided people between four places and people also stayed in cars, professional drivers, and even in boats.”

Read More: Avalanche Barriers in Iceland

No injuries were sustained in the avalanches that fell on the mountainside during the road closure, though one car had to be dug out after it was buried in snow. Bragi stated that while there had fortunately been no accidents, there have been close calls, and it was only a matter of time before someone was injured or worse, in either an avalanche or landslide along the road.

Residents and others have called for a tunnel between Álftafjörður and Skutulsfjörður fjords, but no such project is currently included in the government’s infrastructure plans. “It appears that this is our private issue here, there are over 200 people in the district, but that isn’t the true traffic along this road. There is heavy transport, there are travellers driving between Ísafjörður and Bolungarvík to Reykjavík,” Bragi stated.

The town of Súðavík was hit by a devastating avalanche in 1995 that killed 14 people, including eight children, and injured 12. Nearby Flateyri experienced a deadly avalanche later that same year. Structures in Súðavík were moved following the disaster and avalanche barriers constructed in the region.

After the Avalanche

Westfjords avalanche

In January 1995, an avalanche hit the small town of Súðavík in the Westfjords. The town was decimated, and out of the 227 inhabitants, 14 people died. Some were rescued, including a teenage boy who spent 23 hours buried under the snow.

In October that same year, another avalanche hit Flateyri, a town of 350 people about a half an hour’s drive away. This time, 20 people were lost. The two avalanches were not only a blow to those affected, but to the nation as a whole. In the decades since, energy and funds have been spent building up anti-avalanche earthworks to prevent such disasters from happening again.

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Homes Evacuated Due to Avalanche Risk

Buildings in two Westfjords towns have been evacuated due to avalanche risk, the Icelandic Met Office reports. Severe weather in the region and heavy snowfall on the mountains led to the decision to evacuate homes and other buildings in the towns of Flateyri and Patreksfjörður and nearby areas. The Icelandic Met Office is monitoring the situation closely in consultation with the Department of Civil Protection.

Recent Flateyri avalanches

Two avalanches fell in the town of Flateyri this past January. While no serious injuries were sustained, the town’s harbour was decimated and many fishing boats destroyed. Three avalanches fell outside the town in late February as well. This year marks the 25th anniversary of two fatal avalanches in Flateyri and nearby Súðavík.

Blizzard in Northwest Iceland throughout today

A Northeasterly blizzard is currently underway in the Westfjords and Northwest Iceland. Extreme weather conditions are expected to continue in the region until this evening. Considerable snowfall and gale-force winds are expected in the region, particularly in the Westfjords. The storm will move east this evening, affecting North Iceland.