ALERT: Two avalanches occur near Longyearbyen, officials say nobody trapped


A large avalanche early Sunday afternoon blocked a snowmobile trail on Hiorthfjellet across from Longyearbyen, but emergency officials said nobody was caught in it. A second subsequent avalanche in the area soon after also apparently trapped no people.

Svalbard Gov. Kjerstin Askholt told Verdens Gang at about 2 p.m. an observation of the mountain with binoculars showed a large slab of snow collapsed onto a slope below.

“There are snowmobile tracks going in, but fortunately it looks like they are going out too,” she said. “seems that they go out too. We are nonetheless doing a full search to see if some people are taken by the avalanche.”

Police and the Longyearbyen Red Cross searched the area by helicopter and on the ground. The governor’s office issued a statement at 2:35 p.m. declaring nobody was caught in the avalanche.

Shortly after officials responded to another avalanche in the area, but they “are confident there are no people,” according to Verdens Gang.

“There is still danger of avalanches in areas around Longyearbyen and the governor encourages people who are out on the terrain to be cautious and take precautions,” the governor’s statement notes.

A Level Three risk level (“considerable”) exists Sunday, with a Level Two risk forecast Monday and Tuesday, according to The Norwegian Avalanche Centre’s warning system.