Five feared dead in military plane crash

A Norwegian military transport plane with five people on board remained missing late on Thursday despite a massive search operation after the Hercules aircraft disappeared over Sweden's far north earlier in the day.

Five feared dead in military plane crash
A Swedish rescue helicopter taking part in the search (Photo: Fredric Alm/Scanpix)

No official announcement has been made that the plane, its wreckage or passengers and crew had been found.

Defence Minister Espen Barth Eide expressed his sympathy for the families and friends of the missing officers.

”This is one of the worst pieces of news a defence minister can receive: that an airplane is missing and later confirmed crashed. My thoughts go to those closest to the people who were on board.”

He underlined that the crew was still considered to be missing, and not presumed dead.

”There’s a major search operation underway in the area where we know the plane went down, but nobody has yet found the craft involved in the accident,” Barth Eide told reporters at a 9pm press conference.

Air rescue official Matthias Hansson earlier told AFP that a "Norwegian Hercules transport plane en route from Evenes in Norway to Kiruna in Sweden
has been reported missing near Kiruna".

The plane last made contact with Kiruna air traffic control around 2.40pm and then disappeared from radar screens, he said.

Bad weather conditions were reported in the area.

Helicopters were sent from Norway, Sweden and Denmark to search for the aircraft.

The Hercules was taking part in a Norwegian-led military exercise dubbed Cold Response 2012, with some 16,000 people joining from 15 countries.


Map: Rescuers believe the plane crashed at Drakryggen, near Mount Kebnekaise, Sweden's highest peak.

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Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland

Norway, which has suspended the use of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine until further notice, will send 216,000 doses to Sweden and Iceland at their request, the Norwegian health ministry said Thursday.

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland
Empty vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

“I’m happy that the vaccines we have in stock can be put to use even if the AstraZeneca vaccine has been paused in Norway,” Health Minister Bent Høie said in a statement.

The 216,000 doses, which are currently stored in Norwegian fridges, have to be used before their expiry dates in June and July.

Sweden will receive 200,000 shots and Iceland 16,000 under the expectation they will return the favour at some point. 

“If we do resume the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we will get the doses back as soon as we ask,” Høie said.

Like neighbouring Denmark, Norway suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab on March 11 in order to examine rare but potentially severe side effects, including blood clots.

Among the 134,000 AstraZeneca shots administered in Norway before the suspension, five cases of severe thrombosis, including three fatal ones, had been registered among relatively young people in otherwise good health. One other person died of a brain haemorrhage.

On April 15, Norway’s government ignored a recommendation from the Institute of Public Health to drop the AstraZeneca jab for good, saying it wanted more time to decide.

READ MORE: Norway delays final decision on withdrawal of AstraZeneca vaccine 

The government has therefore set up a committee of Norwegian and international experts tasked with studying all of the risks linked to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which is also suspected of causing blood clots.

Both are both based on adenovirus vector technology. Denmark is the only European country to have dropped the AstraZeneca
vaccine from its vaccination campaign, and said on Tuesday it would “lend” 55,000 doses to the neighbouring German state of Schleswig-Holstein.