Flateyri Avalanche Survivor Recounts Experience - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Flateyri Avalanche Survivor Recounts Experience

Published October 28, 2010

A survivor of the Flateyri avalanche of 1995, which claimed 20 lives, talked about her rescue with Bæjarins Besta magazine.
“I don’t remember when it happened,” said Margrét Kristjánsdóttir in the interview. “I must have been knocked unconscious, possibly by a blow to the head.” On the night in question, she was staying over at a friend’s house, sleeping in their bedroom. When the avalanche struck, the wall of snow burst into the bedroom, and Margrét was carried by the current into the living room, on the other side of the house.
There, she lay buried in the snow for close to nine hours.
Margrét had no idea how much time had passed, but she eventually heard a rustling above her, which she figured must be the rescue dog. At that point “I screamed as loud as I could.”
Rescuers heard her, and began digging. Margrét said that the time that passed from when they began digging until her face was uncovered to the open air seemed to have passed in just a few minutes, although that effort alone took about half an hour. From there, she was moved to a temporary medical facility set up at fish processing plant Kambur, and then to the hospital in nearby Ísafjörður. Margrét stayed in the hospital for two days before returning to Flateyri. Returning home proved to be an incredible experience.
“It normally takes me five minutes to walk from Kambur to my home on Drafnargata. That day it had to have taken half an hour, because you had to hug everyone you met. Everyone on the street was hugging each other, regardless of who they were. If someone had told me a week before that Flateyri residents would react this way if something happened, I would have never believed them. The compassion was indescribable.”

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