Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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Norwegians prepare for more flooding

COPENHAGEN (AP) – People in Norway prepared for more flooding and destruction yesterday as rivers swollen by days of heavy rain carried large amounts of water through the country’s mountainous southeast, where vast areas were either inundated or hit by landslides.

Thousands of people living near waterways were evacuated, their houses emptied and cars moved to higher ground.

There had been fears that a train bridge over the Lågen River would collapse because of the large volume of water, but railway officials said yesterday that it was now stable. All traffic across the bridge was halted on Monday.

On Wednesday, a nearby dam partially burst after Norway’s largest river spilled over and broke through the structure. Downstream communities had been evacuated and no casualties were reported. Police said the situation at the dam was being continuously assessed.

Residents of the town of Hønefossen, through which the Begna River runs, were evacuated as large amounts of water filled its downtown. Authorities did not provide a nationwide count of evacuees, but Norwegian broadcaster NRK said it was up to 4,000.

The Braskreidfoss Power plant in Braskereidfoss, Norway. PHOTO: AFP

Helicopters were on standby to help move people out of remote areas. Authorities said the flooding could last until today and major roads were likely to be closed for days.

“The water level will rise,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said of the flooding late Wednesday. “It is a serious warning for the next few days.”

Storm Hans battered northern Europe starting last Monday, causing damage and disruptions in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.

Ferries were cancelled, flights were delayed, roads and streets were flooded, people were injured by falling branches and thousands remained without electricity.

Southeastern Norway was particularly badly affected. “The extreme weather has had major consequences in several places in the country, the situation is serious and constantly developing,” Acting Norwegian Police Chief Håkon Skulstad said. Yesterday, the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate raised its warning for floods and landslides from orange to red for parts of southern Norway. “This is a very serious situation that can lead to extensive consequences and damage,” it said in a statement. Norwegian meteorologists also issued a red warning for extremely heavy rain. In neighbouring Sweden, parts of the harbor in the second-largest city, Goteborg, remained flooded.