Four skiers presumed dead in Norway avalanche

A car belonging to four missing skiers is parked in Tamokdalen, northern Norway. Rescue workers resumed the search for the skiers on Blabaerfjellet mountain after a break due to bad weather. (EPA Photo)
Updated 04 January 2019

Four skiers presumed dead in Norway avalanche

  • The skiers, three Finnish men and a Swedish woman, were reported missing by a friend on Wednesday
  • Doctor Mads Gilbert of the University Hospital of North Norway stressed that the chances of survival in such cases could be counted in minutes, not hours

OSLO: Norwegian authorities said Friday they had given up hope of finding four Finnish and Swedish cross-country skiers alive after they appeared to have been caught in an avalanche in the Arctic two days ago.
The skiers, three Finnish men and a Swedish woman, were reported missing by a friend on Wednesday around 4:00 p.m. (1500 GMT) in Tamokdalen in Troms county, northern Norway.
Bad weather in the region has complicated the search, but a helicopter rescue team on Friday detected two transponder signals in the region hit by the avalanche.
“This confirms our assumption that the missing were swept away by the avalanche,” Troms police commissioner Astrid Nilsen told reporters.
“We do not consider it feasible that any of the four could have survived,” she said, noting that almost two days had passed since the avalanche.
Doctor Mads Gilbert of the University Hospital of North Norway stressed that the chances of survival in such cases could be counted “in minutes, not hours.”
“We are absolutely convinced that there is no medical basis to continue to search for (these people) as if they were still alive,” he said.
Norwegian police did not disclose the identities of the four, but said they were all in their thirties.


Russia launches floating nuclear reactor in Arctic despite warnings

Updated 2 min 33 sec ago

Russia launches floating nuclear reactor in Arctic despite warnings

MOSCOW: Russia will launch the world’s first floating nuclear reactor and send it on an epic journey across the Arctic on Friday, despite environmentalists warning of serious risks to the region.
Loaded with nuclear fuel, the Akademik Lomonosov will leave the Arctic port of Murmansk to begin its 5,000 kilometer (3,000-mile) voyage to northeastern Siberia.
Nuclear agency Rosatom says the reactor is a simpler alternative to building a conventional plant on ground that is frozen all year round, and it intends to sell such reactors abroad.
But environmental groups have long warned of the dangers of the project, dubbing it a potential “Chernobyl on ice” and a “nuclear Titanic.”
A deadly explosion this month at a military testing site in Russia’s far north, causing a radioactive surge, has prompted further concerns.
The reactor’s trip is expected to last between four and six weeks, depending on the weather conditions and the amount of ice on the way.
Work began on the 144-meter (472-foot) Akademik Lomonosov in Saint Petersburg in 2006.

An employee looks on inside machinery compartment at floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov on August 22, 2019. (REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov)


When it arrives in Pevek, a town of 5,000 in the Siberian region of Chukotka, it will replace a local nuclear plant and a closed coal plant.
It is due to go into operation by the end of year, mainly serving the region’s oil platforms as Russia develops the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Arctic.
Rashid Alimov, the head of the energy sector of Greenpeace Russia, said environmental groups had been critical of the idea of a floating reactor since the 1990s.
“Any nuclear power plant produces radioactive waste and can have an accident, but Akademik Lomonosov is additionally vulnerable to storms,” he told AFP.
The float is towed by other vessels, making a collision during a storm more likely, he said.
Because Rosatom plans to store spent fuel onboard, Alimov said “any accident involving this fuel might have a serious impact on the fragile environment of the Arctic.”
He added that there is “no infrastructure for a nuclear clean up” in the region.

Rosenergoatom employees work in master control room of the floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov on August 22, 2019. (REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov)

Global warming and melting ice has made the Northeast Passage — which connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific along Russia’s northern coast — more accessible.
When AFP visited the Akademik Lomonosov in May 2018, it was a shabby brown color. It has since been repainted in the red, white and blue of the Russian flag.
The vessel weighs 21,000 tons and has two reactors with a capacity of 35 megawatts each, close to that of those used by nuclear icebreakers.
It has a crew of 69 and travels at a speed of 3.5 to 4.5 knots.
Alimov said the project was a missed opportunity as Chukotka, a region larger than Texas populated by only 50,000 people, “has a huge potential for the development of wind energy.”
“A floating nuclear power plant is a too risky and too expensive way of producing electricity,” he said.
The nuclear industry, seeking to reinvent itself in a gloomy market, is developing smaller, cheaper reactors to attract new customers.
They follow the examples of submarines, icebreakers and aircraft carriers, which have long used nuclear power, and are intended for isolated areas with little infrastructure.