Death in the Deep Cold Darkness

Death in the Deep Cold Darkness

Organisation: VG (Norway)

Publication Date: 04/10/2015



The underwater cave system of Plura in Norway is a well-known cave diving site. With depths down to 130 meters (426 feet) through a 2 kilometer (1.2 mile) long and narrow passage, and water temperatures during winter between 1 and 2 degrees Celsius (34-36 Fahrenheit), it’s also sought after by experienced divers who look for the ultimate challenge. On the 7th February 2014 disaster struck in the deep underwater cave system of Plura, Norway. 5 Finnish divers, separated into two teams went down into the cave. At 112 meters (367 feet) depth, halfway through the cave system, Patrik Grønqvist had just passed a through a 50 centimeter (19.5 inch) wide passage, when his friend and dive buddy got stuck. Grønqvist only inches away, could not get his friend loose, and watched in horror as his friend panicked and shortly after died. Grønqvist, now alone, stressed out, and his dive time now almost doubled from four to eight hours, continued his ascent alone, believing that the other team would panic at the sight of his friend and perish at the same place. Three hours later Patrik observes a light beneath him in the water, and could get some comfort in that at least one diver on the other team had survived. Hours later, believing they are the only two left, a third diver emerges back at their entry point after a 10 hours underwater, but with the saddening message that he also had seen one of their friends die in the depths of the Plura cave. After being treated at the hospital for minor decompression sickness the Finns went home, and the Norwegian authorities started a rescue effort in order to get the two deceased divers out. The rescue effort was abandoned 14 days after the accident. The risk of getting the deceased out of the cave was too high, and as a result, all cave-diving in the area was shut down by the Police authorities. At the moment the Norwegian authorities abandoned their rescue effort, the Finns who survived the cave dive, started to plan their rescue effort in order to get their friends home. After a month of planning, Jari Houtarinen and Jari Uusimäki are both brought out of the cave by their comrades the 26th of march 2014. “Death In The Deep Cold Darkness” is an online feature and a 14 page magazine spread, about the dangers of extreme cave diving I Norway, and the rescue effort where 27 divers and support crew went back in an secret and highly illegal, but well planned rescue effort in the Norwegian mountains. Their number one rule: “No one dies, everybody is going home” VG got an exclusive interview with two of the key persons who planned the rescue mission, Patrik Grønqvist and Sami Paakarinen. Grønqvist, who were one of the survivors from the first dive, and also witnessed his friend die, also shared his story about the first tragic dive with VG and VGTV, and shared videos and pictures from the rescue mission. With information from the Finnish divers, and data from the cave, we were able to recreate the story about what went wrong and how the rescue mission was planned and executed. The feature can be seen here: English: Translated articles: First news-message of the fatalities in Plura (Google Translate): The illegal dive: The story about the fatal dive and the spectacular rescue operation is summarized by Chief Attending Physician Lene Mathisen at Oslo University Hospital: - The cold water, extreme depths and extended time used underwater in a narrow cave. All this put together makes the rescue operation the most spectacular ever done in Scandinavia. As VG managed to get an exclusive interview with the key persons in the rescue operation, we also wanted to make a unique and educational piece of storytelling. With this online piece, we managed to explain to our readers the endeavors the Finns went through in Plura.

Technologies used for this project:

HTML, CSS, Javascript, Skrollr, Illustrator.
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