On 15 January 1905, a rock avalanche from the 1,500-metre-high Ramnefjellet mountain cost the lives of 62 people. On 13 September 1936, another avalanche from Ramnefjellet mountain killed 74 people.
THE LODAL CATASTROPHE 1905
On 15 January 1905, a huge chunk of the 1,500-metre-high Ramnefjellet mountain (Mount Raven) broke off, killing 62 people. The rockslide started 500 metres up the mountainside and carried with it a large area of scree below. The piece of rock was approximately 100 meters high, 50 meters wide and 10 meters thick. That made the stone hammer approximately 50,000 cubic metres, corresponding to a weight of 125,000 tonnes. In addition, there was all the scree and gravel, bringing the total mass of the slide that plunged into Lovatnet lake to approximately 870,000 tonnes.
All of the houses swept away
The tidal wave rose to a height of about 40 metres and swept away all the houses in Ytre Nesdal. The same thing happened in Bødal where all the houses down by the lake were smashed by the wave, with the exception of a few barns and some small outhouses. The tourist boat Lodalen was thrown 350 metres inland.
A total of 24 people died in Bødal on the night of the rockslide, and three more died later from their injuries. In Nesdal, 34 people died. Of those who perished, only nine bodies were recovered and buried. The 1905 rockslide destroyed 60 houses in all and killed 94 cows, 10 horses, 145 sheep and 16 pigs.
A memorial stone was erected at Nesodden the same year, but it was swept away by the rockslide in 1936.
Some of the local people talked about moving from the valley after the accident. All the farmsteads were nevertheless rebuilt. The houses were built further from the shore. They said that geologists believed that they were safe because they didn’t expect any more landslides on Ramnefjellet mountain.
THE LODAL CATASTROPHE 1936
In 1936, a chunk of Ramnefjellet mountain with a mass of one million cubic metres broke off and the resulting tidal wave swept away all the farms around Lovatnet lake. At about five o’clock in the morning on 13 September, another rockslide occurred on Ramnefjellet mountain, killing 74 people.
A 70-metre-high tidal wave
On this occasion, a gigantic piece of the mountain with a volume of around one million cubic metres broke off from 800 metres up the mountainside. The tidal wave reached a height of 70 metres and swept away all the farms around Lovatnet lake. This time the tidal wave was so high that it swept over the Nesodden promontory on the opposite side of the lake and scraped it clean. The memorial on top of the promontory was also swept away, despite being cemented to the rock.
A great loss of human life
Forty-four people were killed in Bødal. In Nesdal, the houses rebuilt on higher ground after the 1905 incident were spared. The disaster attracted many spectators in addition to rescue personnel and volunteers. Three of them died. In Indre Nesdal, 23 people were killed. The tidal wave also caused considerable damage further down the lake. Two small boys died on Sande farm and two people were killed at Osnes.
Biggest natural disaster
The Lodal catastrophe is the biggest natural disaster to have struck Norway in the modern era, and extensive rescue efforts were set in motion. Health personnel and rescue workers flocked to the rescue and many of the injured were sent to the newly opened Nordfjord hospital at Nordfjordeid. Crown Prince Olav attended the funeral service in Loen Church for those who perished.
The farms in Bødal and Nesdal were not rebuilt after the last disaster.
Beside the road between Bødal and Kjenndal, a copper plaque has been erected with the names of those whose bodies were never recovered after the Lodal catastrophes of 1905 and 1936.