Greenland Emergency Response

A massive landslide hit the village of Nuugaatsiaq just after 23:00 local time on June 17 (01:00 UTC on June 18), sweeping away 11 houses, destroying most of the remaining houses, and leaving 4 people dead and 9 injured, 2 of them seriously.

It was initially thought that the tsunami was created by a magnitude 4.0 earthquake with the epicenter 28 km (17.4 miles) north of the village of Nuugaatsiaq on the Northwestern coast of Greenland. However, reconnaissance flights performed by the Danish Joint Arctic Command on June 18 discovered a large landslide scar (approximately 300 x 1 100 m / 985 x 3 600 feet), thus confirming that the cause of the tsunami was a landslide. The highest tsunami wave was later measured to have been at least 90 meters high.

On June 19, Arctic Command sent additional aircraft to study the scar left by the landslide and found that another potentially unstable slope is located next to the failed mass. The discovery prompted the full evacuation of the village of Nuugaatsiaq, where 23 people initially decided not to leave, and both Illorsuit and Niaqornat.

Evacuees were sent to Uummannaq, where they are currently sheltered in a school and private homes. Evacuation from Niaqornat has been lifted but evacuees from Illorsuit and Nuugaatsiaq will not be returning home any time soon, in total around 200 people. 

Maps of the affected area

Grønland 1

 Grønland 2


Summary of the response

Greenland RC has only 1 employee, and the Greenland Self-Government also has limited resources. Therefore the DRC has been called upon to support in different ways the response after the Tsunami. DRC have provided management support to the Greenland Red Cross (KRK) – remote and on-the-ground, assisting KRK with operational framing, organizational setup, communications strategy and HR support.

3 Danish staff have been deployed for the operation:

  • Claus Falsby Olsen – Management support, Ops coordination and operational framing (early July)
  • Birthe Solevad – PSS (august)
  • Dennis Kjeldsen – Relief (august)

Main activities:

  • Distribution of 12 containers of unsolicited donated goods - mainly clothes (relief)
  • Distribution of cash vouchers for food and hygiene items (relief)
  • Providing  information services from an RC service center
  • Providing psychosocial support among other things establishment of child friendly space (PSS)
  • Supporting the evacuated families by strengthening crisis coping mechanisms (PSS)
  • Financial support to the municipality procurement of fishing equipment and boats (livelihood)
  • Supporting the establishment of new branch in Uummannaq (OD)

The operation is in its final stage with KRK completing the last issues. The Service Center in Uummaanaq has been closed and the final operational activities has been handed over to the new volunteers (coming Branch) to complete. The Government and Municipality has taken on the responsibility for the recovery phase providing permanent housing and replace households and livelihoods goods.