Tragic avalanche in Súðavík remembered

The Icelandic flag was drawn at half mast in Súðavík. …

The Icelandic flag was drawn at half mast in Súðavík. Fourteen people, including eight children died in the 1995 avalanche. Rax / Ragnar Axelsson

On January 16th, twenty years ago, an avalanche fell on the village of Súðavík in the West Fjords. Fourteen people died, including eight children. Morgunblaðið photographer Ragnar Axelsson, one of the journalists who first arrived at the scene, remembers the event that united a country in grief. 

"The weather was so crazy that we could only reach Súðavík via the coast guard shop. It was unbelievable, sailing right into that storm," recounts Axelsson, also known as RAX. 

"Upon the arrival the atmosphere was melancholic. The whole nation was in shock. Spending that week in Súðavík is something I will remember my whole life with a lump in my heart."

Rax says that witnessing the sorrow of the people of Súðavík was devastating but that the media were well received. The area where the avalanche fell ws secured and journalists could not photograph search and rescue teams at work. 

"This kind of event becomes a part of history and photographs document that history." Rax asked one of the men in the search team to take a few photographs of them shovelling snow from the buildings that were hit. 

Here are a few of Ragnar Axelssons photographs of the tragic events. 

Súðavík in the aftermath of the avalanche.

Súðavík in the aftermath of the avalanche. Ragnar Axelsson

Furniture sticks out of the snow in once residential area …

Furniture sticks out of the snow in once residential area of Súðavík. Ragnar Axelsson

Once the hurricane subsided, the devastation of the avalanche was …

Once the hurricane subsided, the devastation of the avalanche was truly visible. Ragnar Axelsson

A large part of Súðavík was in ruins and the …

A large part of Súðavík was in ruins and the tragedy hit many families. Ragnar Axelsson

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