At 3:26 pm on Friday 22 July news broke of an explosion in the centre of Norway’s capital, Oslo. Within minutes the scene was identified as the government headquarters, severely damaged by the bomb, killing some eight civil servants, injuring a lot more. As “luck” would have it, the explosion took place after business hours, at a time when most of our working force is away on vacation.
Needless to say, we were all deeply shocked. In a heartbeat our capital turned into a battle zone, but we were soon to learn that all hell had only just begun to break loose. At approximately 5 pm the media brought the heartbreaking reports of a shooting spree taking place at the Labour Party youth camp at Utøya, some 50 kilometres away, killing another 68 teenagers and young adults, with scores of injured (final figures yet to be determined) – all an act of one single, highly disturbed extremist. Text continues below photograph.
Many of us working for HSMAI Europe are Norwegians and absolutely devastated – as most people around the world. As a country of less than 5 million citizens, the proportions are inconceivable. We all know some of the deceased, the injured, their next of kin – or their friends.
This incident has struck us all so hard it may seem meaningless to go on, but giving up would entail a surrender to terrorism and senseless acts of violence. Our response is to continue as planned, with an ambitious schedule throughout the autumn and the winter, while paying our deepest respect to the affected – and in memory of those poor young people, our very finest. A loss so vast that we find it impossible to get our heads around it.
Our hearts go out in sorrow, to the mourning friends and families, in loving memory of the untimely departed.
Photos: 200,000 mourners congregated outside the Oslo city hall on Monday 25 July 2011. Photo from Wikipedia/Mathias-S
Flowers laid down in front of the Oslo cathedral during the days following the senseless attack. Photo from Wikipedia/Asav