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Panorama picture from Norddal Municipality in Norway




THE TAFJORD DISASTER

The light grey scar left after the landslide is clearly seen on the mountainside just before the waterfall on the northern side of the fjord. The red segment indicates the section of the mountain that fell down into the fjord at Fjørå.

One of the worst natural catastrophes in Norway´s history happened here in the early hours of a mild Spring morning at precisely seven minutes past three, on 7th April 1934. Locals had been aware of the fissure expanding in the 730 metres high Langhamar mountain for a long time, but nothing could be done except hope for the best, as previous generation had done.

Then suddenly the mountain wrenched apart, taking with it "Heggura" below, and 2-3 million cubic metres of rock crashed to the waters below with horrific force. The Tafjord became a seething arena of gigantic tidal waves, (the biggest was 64 metres in height) which were registred 100 km away.

The inhabitants were fast asleep, and those who lived on the edge of the fjord, had little or no chance to escape in the dark. Three tidal waves, each one larger than the previous, annihilated everything in their paths when they swept over the settlements of Fjørå and Tafjord. Forty lives where lost altogether. A number of homes were demolished or swept away here in Fjørå. Some residents managed to save themselves by running out of their houses and up the hill, but all of 17 persons lost their lives, of which 7 were children. The tidal waves also struck as far as the memorial below.

The idyllic rural community was obliterated in the space of a few minutes. Everything along the shoreline was swept away; livestock, buildings, boats, quays, roads and land. Few physical scars are left today, but it will be a long time before this tragedy is erased from local memory.

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