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Blaze in Crowded Norwegian Hotel Kills 14, Hurts 50

September 06, 1986|From Times Wire Services

KRISTIANSAND, Norway — Fire swept through a crowded hotel in this southern Norwegian resort Friday, killing 14 people and injuring more than 50, police said.

Four Swedes, a Canadian and seven Norwegians were among the dead. The identities of the two remaining dead were not known. Names of the dead were being withheld pending notification of relatives.

The Norwegian News Agency NTB quoted a 23-year-old survivor as saying the fire alarms at the Hotel Caldeonisa did not work. "No alarm informed us there was something wrong in the hotel," she said. "Another guest woke me up by banging on the door."

The hotel was not equipped with sprinklers but did have heat-sensing devices which are supposed to sound an alarm when smoke or fire is detected.

Odvar Vatland, 43, trapped inside the burning hotel for four hours, recorded his experience on a cassette player as he waited to be rescued.

Played Tape Recorder

He later played the tape to reporters: "There are people screaming, they're smashing windows. It's complete panic here . . . Impossible to get through the corridor, too much smoke. . . . Difficult to breathe."

Vatland could be heard coughing and breathing heavily as smoke engulfed his hotel room. He said a helicopter winchman rescued him moments before he felt he would pass out.

About 135 people were believed to be in the 10-story hotel when the blaze broke out in the lobby at 4:40 a.m. local time, and dozens were trapped for several hours as the flames cut off exit routes.

Helicopters plucked guests still dressed in nightclothes from the hotel roof and from bedroom windows as fire and smoke spread from the ground to the upper stories of the concrete building. The first three floors were gutted.

Cause Unknown

Police said the cause of the fire was not yet known, but a team of detectives from Oslo had begun a formal investigation.

A police spokesman told reporters that firemen equipped with breathing apparatus had made an initial search of the 350-bed hotel and no more survivors or victims had been found.

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