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The Envoy

Global press largely overlooks heroism of couple in Norway massacre

The Envoy

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Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen. (Maija Tammi/Helsingin Sanomat)

As Norway continues to grapple with the attacks by a home-grown extremist that killed 77 people last month, one couple, who moved to help young people fleeing from gunman Anders Breivik, is getting a bit of belated recognition.

Hege Dalen and her wife, Toril Hansen, were eating dinner on July 22nd on the other shore from Utoya island when they heard screaming, the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sannomat reported.  After bombing government buildings in Oslo, Breivik had come to the island dressed as a policeman and went on to shoot more than 100 young people attending a Labour party camp there.

"We were eating," Dalen told the newspaper. "Then shooting and then the awful screaming. We saw how the young people ran in panic into the lake."

The couple took off in their boat for the island, picking up shocked victims from the water and transporting them to the mainland. They made four runs in all, helping rescue some 40 of Breivik's victims, the paper reported.

"Between runs they saw that the bullets had hit the right side of the boat," the paper wrote.

Some lesbian-gay news sites and blogs have picked up the account in recent days, noting the same-sex married heroes of the story haven't gotten much attention in the international press.

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