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Deadly Arctic avalanche hits remote Norwegian town

An avalanche has buried several houses in the Norwegian town of Longyearbyen, killing at least one person and injuring four children, officials say. The mining settlement is one of the northern most places in the world.

The snow shifted several houses some 20 meters (yards) down a hillside, witnesses in Longyearbyen said on Saturday.

The Norwegian authorities dispatched around 100 emergency workers and volunteers to search for survivors in the Arctic darkness on the remote

Svalbard Arctic archipelago.

"A man in his forties is confirmed dead after an avalanche in Longyearbyen. The man was a resident of Longyearbyen," the office of the Svalbard governor said.

The rescuers managed to save 44-year old Anne Kristin Jakobsen, who was buried alive under the snow, according to the "Svalbardposten" daily. The woman reportedly drew the responders' attention by banging on a microwave oven.

A total of nine people were hospitalized, including four children, a local hospital official said. Two children and one adult are still in serious condition.

Around 10 houses were buried in the avalanche.

Night with no end

The avalanche hit less than a day after a storm ripped off the roof from the local school, throwing it onto a soccer field. A local newspaper called the Friday storm the worst in 30 years.

Longyearbyen was

established as a mining colony,

and is considered to be one of the northernmost human settlements in the world.

It is the capital of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago, situated some 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of the Norwegian coast.

There are around 2,600 people living on the remote islands, which is covered in Arctic darkness from late November to mid-February.

dj/tj (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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