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More evacuations considered in Norway

COPENHAGEN (AP) – More evacuations were being considered yesterday in southeastern Norway, where the level of water in swollen rivers and lakes continued to grow after days of torrential rain.

Huge amounts of water, littered with broken trees, debris and trash, were thundering down the usually serene rivers. It flooded abandoned houses, left cars coated in mud and swamped camping sites.

One of the most affected places was the town of Hønefossen where the Begna river had gone over its banks and authorities were considering moving more people downstream for fear of landslides. Up to 2,000 people have already been evacuated.

“We constantly try to think a few steps ahead. We are ready to press an even bigger red button,” local emergency manager in the Hønefossen region Magnus Nilholm told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

Ivar Berthling of Norway’s Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) told Norwegian news agency NTB that the water levels around Hønefossen, some 40 kilometres north of Oslo, were expected to continue rising and remain high until at least Monday. Up north, near the Strondafjorden lake, the water level was reported to be 2.5 metres above normal.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre was to visit Hønefossen later Friday while King Harald and Queen Sonja were to visit the headquarters of the NVE.

Authorities did not provide a nationwide count of evacuees. According to a rough estimate, damage could so far amount to NOK1 billion (nearly USD100 million).

Storm Hans on Monday and Tuesday battered northern Europe, leading to transportation distruption, flooding and power cuts across the Nordic and Baltic region. At least three people.

Southeastern Norway was particularly badly affected. A hydroelectric river dam collapsed on Wednesday as water forced its way through, and earlier this week a train derailed in neighbouring Sweden when a railway embankment was washed away by floods.

Water breaks through a dam at Braskereidfoss, Norway. PHOTO: AP
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