Dam nears breaking point in central Sweden

Rescue services and volunteers are working hand over fist to stem the growing risk of a dam breaking in Säter in central Sweden as water levels continue to rise in the wake of weekend downpours.

Dam nears breaking point in central Sweden

Water levels have risen ten centimetres since Sunday and 20 professional rescue workers have been joined by volunteers in a bid to prevent the dam from bursting and spilling over into the adjoining Säter Valley.

“The rain that previously fell in the forests has drained into Lake Ljustern and we don’t know when it will culminate. That’s what’s a bit worrying,” municipal safety coordinator Torbjörn Orr told news agency TT.

Were the dam to break, houses in the valley run the risk of flooding. The valley has now been closed off and orders have been given to evacuate.

Säter Valley is a park area that includes children’s playgrounds and hiking trails.

The Riksväg 50 road between Grängesberg and Ludvika was also closed over the weekend due to water damage. Only three meters of the road were submerged, but the Swedish Road Administration determined that large amounts of water had created a risk of landslide. Traffic was redirected to the 604 and 608 roads in Gonäs, near Ludvika, and Lötberget (near Grängesberg).

On Monday, the Road Administration will decide if the stretch of road can be reopened, according to Zakarias Juto at the traffic management dispatch in Härnösand.

The areas hardest hit by the wet weekend were Dalsland and southern Värmland. In Åmål, more than 100 houses were flooded and emergency personnel worked all day Saturday to minimize the damange.

The highest precipitation level of the weekend was recorded in Värmland at 63 millimeters, but local sources also reported amounts higher than 100 millimetres, according to the SMHI meteorological agency.

The roads were also hard bit by the masses of water and short stretches were washed away. For the most part, this affected back roads, but municipal highways, as well as the E45 motorway, have also needed repairs.

The flooding also caused major delays in train traffic on the Vänerbanan train service, mainly in Dalsland and Värmland, reported Göteborgs-Posten newspaper.

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Sweden’s famous white elk ‘not seen since January’

A rare white elk which won global fame last year has mysteriously vanished from its stomping ground in Värmland, western Sweden, with no sightings by locals since January.

Sweden's famous white elk 'not seen since January'
A white elk photographed in Värmland in July. Photo: Tommy Pedersen/TT
“People here in Värmland have rung me and said they haven’t seen him since the winter,” Ulf Jonasson, whose documentary about the elk was released last year, told The Local. 
“I’ve now been here a few days, looking around his favourite places, and I’m a little bit worried that maybe something has happened to him.” 
Johansson’s documentary, ‘The White King of the Forest’, has been watched by 750,000 people since it was aired on Sweden's state broadcaster SVT this June. 
The elk achieved viral fame when Hans Nilsson, a city councillor from Eda, one of the villages frequented by the elk, filmed it last August and uploaded his film on Facebook. 
The clip was picked up by BBC and MSN and shared thousands of times on social media. 


But long before Nilsson's clip, Jonasson had been tracking and following the stately animal for a long-term nature documentary, the success of which he put down to Ferdinand’s size and attractive personality. 
“I called him Ferdinand, because he’s like the bull Ferdinand in the Disney film: he’s very gentle and calm, and not so frightened, and he’s big, he’s majestic, so he’s really king of the forest up here. There’s no animal in the world quite like this.” 
Jonasson said it was not unusual for him not to be able to find Ferdinand immediately.  
“Sometimes I could follow him for several days, without a problem, but then it could go weeks or sometimes a month before I found him again.” 
But whenever he had not been able to find Ferdinand in the past, he said, he had always heard from others who had recently spotted him, so he finds his current absence worrying. 
“There are a number of villages up here, and there people pretty see him pretty regularly, and they haven’t seen him since January, he said.  “I followed him for four years, and so I have an emotional connection, naturally.”

Jonasson speculated that Ferdinand could have been killed by wolves, who hunt elk in packs, or else fallen through this year’s unusually soft ice and drowned in a lake. 
“But I hope he hasn’t hurt himself and that he will pop up somewhere again,” he said. 
Jonasson intends to keep searching for a few more days before returning north to his home in Jämtland.