Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Feb. 9, 2016

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Demolition of homes buried by avalanche at midpoint
Workers have demolished six of the 11 homes damaged beyond repair by the Dec. 19 avalanche as of this week, according to LNS Spitsbergen, which has posted a video of the ongoing work. The company is consulting with residents before each demolition, allowing them to remove salvageable possessions. The workers are then removing the windows and hazardous objects from the homes, and drying out the wood and crushing it before bringing it to Hotellneset where it is being temporarily stored under netting. The demolition of all of the homes which started at the beginning of the month is expected to take about three weeks. There are also various items and debris in the snowpack above the homes, but LNSS Administrative Director Frank Jakobsen said the company is still deciding if it clear the area with machinery or wait until the snow melts. The area is closed until the snow vanishes due to potential hazards.

Police: Snowmobiler hurt in Barentsburg crash while DUI
A man in his 30s was hospitalized Sunday after crashing his snowmobile into a metal post in Barentsburg while intoxicated, according to The Governor of Svalbard. The man, a foreigner making an overnight trip to Barentsburg, received initial treatment at the hospital in the Russian settlement before being transferred to Longyearbyen Hospital. The governor’s office is now investigating the case as a criminal matter. It is the second case this year involving an intoxicated snowmobile driver.

High-profile prosecutor to be new lieutenant governor
Berit Sagfossen, 57, chief prosecutor for Oslo’s public prosecutor office, has been appointed deputy governor of Svalbard as of April 1, the governor’s office announced Friday. She obtained her law degree in 1987, and has worked as a superintendent and district attorney. She was the prosecutor in the trial of three Neo-Nazi men convicted of charges related to the 2001 murder of Benjamin Hermansen, a Norwegian-born Ghanaian youth stabbed to death in Oslo. Sagfossen will replace Jens Olav Sæther.

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