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Daily Archives: 12. March 2015 − News & Stories

Hap­py end to long SAR ope­ra­ti­on

A lar­ge SAR (search and res­cue) ope­ra­ti­on was star­ted in the ear­ly after­noon of Wed­nes­day, March 12, when 3 men had not retur­ned back to Lon­gye­ar­by­en from their trip to the east coast of Spits­ber­gen. The pri­va­te group, all locals from Lon­gye­ar­by­en in their 30ies, left for the east coast with snow mobi­les on Mon­day and should have retur­ned Tues­day evening or later that night. As they did not return to their jobs on Wed­nes­day, their boss alar­med the aut­ho­ri­ties (Sys­sel­man­nen).

Sys­sel­man­nen and Red Cross star­ted a SAR ope­ra­ti­on with 2 heli­c­op­ters, which las­ted the who­le after­noon on Wed­nes­day, wit­hout any result for many hours. Next to seve­ral huts on the east coast which can be used by locals, an immense­ly lar­ge area had to be che­cked. The group had not infor­med anyo­ne in Lon­gye­ar­by­en about the exact details of their plans, nor did they have a satel­li­te bea­con or satel­li­te tele­pho­ne which would, very likely, have made the SAR ope­ra­ti­on much shorter and easier.

In spi­te of dark­ness, the emer­gen­cy forces kept going in the evening and found the 3 men short­ly after 11 p.m. on Königs­berg­breen. They had given an emer­gen­cy signal, pro­ba­b­ly using a torch, and could be trans­por­ted back to Lon­gye­ar­by­en with some under­coo­ling, but gene­ral­ly in good con­di­ti­on. They were taken to the hos­pi­tal for medi­cal exami­na­ti­on.

Königs­berg­breen is a lar­ge gla­cier near the east coast of Spits­ber­gen, north of Mohn­buk­ta, and part of a fre­quent­ly tra­vel­led rou­te.

The cau­se for the delay is not yet known in public. Tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties with snow mobi­les are cer­tain­ly pos­si­ble, inclu­ding get­ting stuck in deep, soft snow after peri­ods of snow­fall.

In this area, tou­rists are obli­ged to inform aut­ho­ri­ties about their plans well in advan­ce, they have to have insu­rance for SAR ope­ra­ti­ons and a satel­li­te emer­gen­cy bea­con. Locals do not have this legal obli­ga­ti­on.

Königs­berg­breen in fine wea­ther.


The posi­ti­on of Königs­berg­breen near Mohn­buk­ta on the east coast of Spits­ber­gen. © base map: Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te, car­to­gra­phy by Rolf Stan­ge.

position Königsbergbreen

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen, Sval­bard­pos­ten.


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