Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Norwegian Forgotten for 2 Weeks in Morgue

Nils Kalvatn Schoeyen spent two weeks searching for his uncle after he failed to return to Oslo from a Christmas vacation in Thailand. He found him lying forgotten in a Moscow morgue.

No one contacted Erling Selmer Larsen's family or the Norwegian Embassy in Moscow, even though the Norwegian national was carrying his passport.

Larsen, an unmarried retiree with no children, died suddenly on an Aeroflot flight from Bangkok on Dec. 26.

He fell ill about three hours into the eight-hour flight to Moscow, where he was supposed to transfer to an Oslo-bound plane, Aeroflot spokesman Lev Koshlyakov said Friday.

Larsen, who was seated in economy class at the back of the plane, was treated by a crew member with experience in first aid and by two cardiologists who happened to be aboard the aircraft, Koshlyakov said. They unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate him for about half an hour.

A space was then cleared in business class, and his body was moved there for the rest of the flight.

In Moscow, police from the air transport division came aboard the aircraft and sent the body to the Botkin Hospital.

Schoeyen said his uncle was scheduled to return to Oslo on Dec. 27, but when he hadn't heard from him for three days he started to make inquiries.

At first he feared that something might have happened in Thailand, but after calling around he learned that Larsen had boarded the flight on Dec. 26.

Early last week, Schoeyen found the phone number for another passenger who had been on the plane and discovered that somebody had died during the flight.

"She only knew it was a man. I assumed it had to be my uncle," Schoeyen said.

He said Larsen, who was born in 1935, had suffered a major heart attack last fall.

Schoeyen immediately contacted the Norwegian Embassy, which traced Larsen to the Botkin Hospital morgue on Wednesday.

An embassy spokeswoman said the police had explained that they had tried to contact the embassy but couldn't get through because they had the wrong phone number.

"They have apologized a lot," she said.

Botkin officials also said they had the wrong number, Schoeyen said. "They should have gotten the new one," he said.

The Norwegian Embassy recently changed the phone number at its offices on Povarskaya Ulitsa in downtown Moscow.

Police and hospital officials could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry and the embassy have asked the Russian authorities for an explanation as to why Larsen's death went unreported.

"I'm not angry, just disappointed and very surprised that this could happen," Schoeyen said. "I just can't see why they should take so long."

Larsen's body will be flown to Norway on Monday.