AVALANCHE UPDATE: Governor makes entering restricted zones a criminal offense, releases drone video of slide area as workers begin sealing off damaged homes


Entering areas closed due to avalanche risk is now a criminal offense, The Governor of Svalbard announced Wednesday after a ski tourist was spotted traversing the area where Saturday’s snowslide occurred.

“There was a skier that did not get what has happened and who was going up to Sukkertoppen,” Police Chief Lt. Arve Johnsen told Svalbardposten. “To underline the seriousness of that, we’ve decided to block it off according to the Police Act.”

Posters will be hung in hotels, and receptionists will be required to inform guests about the avalanche and traffic ban.


A map from The Governor of Svalbard shows areas of Longyearbyen still off limits due to avalanche risk (click image to download larger map).

The decision comes after the governor’s office issued reminders earlier during the day residents of homes hit by the avalanche are prohibited from entering them. Workers began sealing the homes off from the weather Wednesday, but a statement by the governor’s office notes the work will continue through the Christmas season, and that removal of furniture and other items will not be permitted until it is completed.

The governor’s office also released a 49-second drone video of the avalanche area today.