Deadly avalanche strikes ski resort in the world’s northernmost city of Norilsk, Russia


Three family members were killed by an avalanche in the world's northernmost city of Norilsk, Russia on Friday, January 8, 2021. 

The avalanche struck the Otdelnaya Gora ski resort in northern Russia late Friday (LT), the authorities confirmed early Saturday morning. 

Between 4 and 6 huts at the ski resort were buried by the snow, prompting a rescue operation involving more than 200 people and 29 vehicles.

Rescuers said all of the missing people have been found by Saturday morning, adding that they have recovered the bodies of a 45-year-old man, his 38-year-old wife, and their 18-month-old child. Their 14-year-old son was found alive and taken to the hospital with serious injuries, including frostbite.

Two people made their own way to safety.

"The area of the avalanche is about 500 – 600 m2 (5 400 – 6 500 feet2). The thickness of the snow cover is 3 m (10 feet) on average. We dug up 10 – 15% of the covered area," Igor Shatalov, Chairman of the board of the company that manages the private tourist base, told TASS on Saturday.

Shatalov said the night work was complicated by a blizzard, which stopped by Saturday morning. He added that in the area of the campsite the temperature is about -25 °C (-13 °F), which lessens the chances of finding people alive under the snow slide. 

According to volunteer rescuer Maxim Inikhow, all of the buildings were unoccupied at the time of the avalanche except one.

"We have a very strong blizzard so there were very few people vacationing today at the ski resort," Inikhov said.

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The emergency services have warned that there is a threat of further avalanches in the area.

According to TASS, the Investigative Department of Russia’s Investigative Committee for the Krasnoyarsk region and the republic of Khakassia has initiated a criminal case on the provision of services that do not meet safety requirements.

Featured image credit: EMERCOM

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