Lessons From Norway’s Botched Casualty Count

Anders Breivik

Although Norwegian police continue combing Utoya island for bodies, authorities downsized the number of fatalities to 68. An unnecessary rush led to careless double-counting.

According to AP:

Police blamed the mix-up on the chaotic situation that erupted on Utoya island when police and rescue workers tried to sort the injured from the dead under mounting pressure to reveal that the number of slain youths was much higher than originally reported.

“It could be that some were counted twice,” police spokesman Oystein Maeland told reporters at a news conference in Oslo, explaining that bodies were spread all over the island and some of the dead hidden under other bodies. “But it was necessary to get that information out there (fast) because it was sky-high compared with the number that media had been given.”

Why the need to rush? Count the bodies right, only say what you know, and trust the sympathetic press corps to appropriately handle whatever numbers they get from other sources.

So why did the police toss their credibility down the drain? Anders Breivik’s massacre was no less horrific, and it’s not like we’re talking about disputed Gaza casualties . . . .