Siglufjörður Avalanche Remembered

Vala Hafstað

A hundred years ago this week, avalanches hit Siglufjörður and vicinity in Northeast Iceland, killing 18 people. The avalanche in Siglufjörður swept seven buildings into the ocean, one of them a herring processing plant.

Nine people lost their lives in the Siglufjörður avalanche, which hit on April 12, 1919, while seven survived. That same day and the next, avalanches hit nearby Engidalur farm and Héðinsfjörður fjord, killing a total of nine people.

The herring processing plant began operation in 1911 and was the first large herring processing plant in Iceland. The three-story building had been constructed by two Norwegian brothers, Gustav and Olav Evanger, in cooperation with a German company in Hamburg, Thomas Morgan & Sohn.

The plant was surrounded by storage sheds and houses for staff – Norwegian style log houses. The factory employed 80-100 people, and as a result, a small village was built around the operation.

The winter of 1918-1919 saw more snowfall than most in the 20th century. The day the avalanche fell at 4 a.m., no one was working in the factory, but a Norwegian manager and his wife were at home in their log house.

Seven people were rescued ten hours after the avalanche hit.

Such was the force of the avalanche that all piers were destroyed, and all smaller boats splintered. Two ships were displaced.

On the farm Engidalur, another avalanche killed a family of seven. Finally, two men were killed when an avalanche hit Héðinsfjörður fjord.

Those events are detailed in Morgunblaðið this week.




13 °C

Light rain


12 °C

Light rain


13 °C