AVALANCHE UPDATE: Nikoline Røkenes, 2, second person killed in Saturday’s avalanche


Nikoline Røkenes, 2, buried for two hours in parents’ home with her sister Pernille, 3, is the second person killed in Saturday’s avalanche, the family confirmed Monday.

“You are living in a nightmare you never wake up from and what has happened is incomprehensible,” her father, Kim Rune Røkenes, who is Longyearbyen’s energy chief, wrote in a message posted at the city’s website Monday afternoon.

The rest of his message, translated and unedited:

“Cannot believe it. Pernille and Nikoline got away from us after the avalanche, and the digging started right away.

I vaguely remember that I saw hundreds of volunteers who were helping with the rescue and those who stood out there are some wonderful strong everyday heroes that we never give enough thanks to. Miracles happened and after two hours our kids found and taken to hospital in Longyearbyen and further to Tromsø.

Very cold, they fought for their lives, together with another who was in the same room. Pernille was a shockingly great joy when it was clear that she would be fine again and Nikoline an endless, bottomless grief that can not be described. Unreal.

It was a fantastic effort by all who were present at the hospital in Longyearbyen; they did everything they could plus a little extra. The same in Tromsø – they never gave up and hoped to the last. It was the best of the best who helped.

“We have received lots of help and support from friends and family, the Svalbard family and hospital personnel – now there’s just a completely hellish way ahead, but Pernille is the focus .”