Norway massacre: 'We are still in shock. It was a worst nightmare that won't go away'

Tales of terror emerge from Norway's paradise lost as the country confronts the enormity of its trauma

Tony Paterson
Friday 29 July 2011 00:00 BST

Norway's Utoya island is a children's paradise of secret rock-fringed coves, towering pines and little sunlit meadows carpeted with wild flowers. It could have been lifted straight from the pages of Arthur Ransome's classic adventure story Swallows and Amazons.

But the idyllic islet lying in the middle of Norway's Tyrifjorden remained sealed off by police yesterday as rescue workers in a boat equipped with a special glass-bottomed container scoured the fjord for the last missing victims of the most devastating massacre the country has witnessed since the Second World War. They gave up their search on the island itself, concluding that there was no one there left to find.

Utoya has been a romantic summer holiday camp for young members of Norway's governing Labour Party for decades. It even boasts a "love path". "The smell of a bonfire, the sound of acoustic guitars and harmonicas, chatting, laughing and banter at 4am will stay with me as immensely precious teenage memories for the rest of my life," wrote Frode Berge, a regional Labour leader, earlier this week.

Since last Friday, Utoya has become a name synonymous with cold-blooded mass murder and death: "This place is where I try to enjoy the summer," said Knut Aidsaa, a caravan camper at the Utviken campsite, which overlooks the island. "Now, every time I look across, I feel both immensely sad and sickened. I can't get what happened out of my head."

Utoya is a paradise lost. A lone rock facing the island was yesterday carpeted with flowers, cuddly toys and sputtering candles in jars commemorating the 68 teenagers gunned down by their country's now most infamous killer: Anders Breivik, 32, a Muslim-hating middle-class Norwegian, who detested the liberal Labour Party for its tolerance towards immigrants and took out his loathing on its youthful members.

The enormity of Mr Breivik's crime has been emerging in the aftermath of the massacre as police release the names of the victims. Survivors who narrowly escaped the killer's salvos have given chilling accounts of the ordeal they endured. One of the most harrowing is that of Emma Martinovic, an 18-year-old party youth member who, wounded by Mr Breivik's bullets, managed to swim to safety as friends were slaughtered in a hail of gunfire.

"I caught sight of the bastard. He was standing there in a police uniform. He had blonde hair, fair skin and a police cap on his head and I saw his weapons," she wrote in her blog. "It looked as if he was aiming at us. Poff! one of the swimmers was shot, I saw the blood stream out so I started to swim even faster."

Ms Martinovic turned to look back at the island and saw Mr Breivik taking aim at her friends, who were undressing and trying to get into the water: "I saw one of my friends about to leap into the water, but in a second he was shot. Even at a distance I could see and hear the two shots, straight to the head. I saw his head explode. I saw how he was split apart. Panic spread like wildfire."

Gun Siri, who works at the Utviken campsite, recalled yesterday how staff wrapped Mr Breivik's traumatised victims in blankets and gave them hot drinks as they waited for ambulances to arrive. "We are still in a state of shock. It was a worst nightmare which won't go away," she said.

Meanwhile, police said yesterday they planned to interrogate Mr Breivik for a second time today as Tor-Aksel Busch, Oslo's chief state prosecutor, announced that, because of the amount of evidence his office needed to collate, his trial would not be held until next year. "Out of respect for those killed, he will be called to account for every single death," he said. Prosecutors are considering charging Mr Breivik with committing "crimes against humanity".

Unconfirmed reports yesterday said that Mr Breivik threw his murder weapon to the ground, put his hands up and proclaimed "now I am done" to police when they finally arrived at Utoya last Friday and arrested him, more than an hour after he began the massacre. Police were reported to have said that Mr Breivik "talked like a waterfall" as he was being taken to police headquarters in Olso after the attack.

Morrissey on the massacre

Morrissey, the former Smiths frontman, who is no stranger to controversy, has reportedly compared the massacre in Norway to the fast-food industry, saying the attacks in which 76 people died were "nothing compared to what happens in McDonald's" and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The singer made the comments during a gig in Warsaw, Poland on Sunday night. The Daily Mirror reported that Morrissey told the audience: "We all live in a murderous world, as the events in Norway have shown... Though that is nothing compared to what happens in McDonald's and Kentucky Fried shit every day." The vegetarian and animal rights activist then launched into a rendition of the Smiths song "Meat Is Murder".

Last year, when criticising China's animal welfare policies, he referred to the Chinese as a "subspecies". He has also been accused of making inflammatory remarks about immigrants in Britain.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in