Calls for Seyðisfjörður evacuation inquiry

13.01.2021 - 10:29
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 Mynd: Hjalti Stefánsson - RÚV
The local council in Seyðisfjörður is calling for an investigation into the devastating mudslides that hit the town last month—specifically why evacuation orders were not given before the mudslides started. The council believes working procedures for all natural disasters need an overhaul.

Minutes from the council’s meeting yesterday show members agreed that nearly all the evacuation orders made throughout the extended crisis came too late. 

“The council makes the demand that an investigation begin immediately into the reasons why evacuations did not occur before mudslides had started to fall, and nearly all the evacuations that were undertaken were in fact retroactive and not proactive as they should be,” the minutes state. 

The members call for a review of natural disaster planning; especially including a review of where responsibility for evacuation decisions should lie. Under the current regulations, the responsibility for avalanche evacuations lies with the Icelandic Met Office, while the civil protection agency is responsible for landslide evacuations. That can cause misunderstandings. “All procedures for decision making in uncertain circumstances must be re-evaluated, and not least in disaster circumstances such as those leading up to the disasters on 18th December last year.” 

The council proposes that evacuation orders should be the responsibility of the Met Office in both circumstances. “The current situation in these matters is totally inappropriate, as it is clear that this level of complexity could have cost many lives in Seyðisfjörður.” 

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