Landslide hits Norwegian village

Seventh body found in Norway mudslide; three still missing

landslide Gjerdrum

Photo: Jaran Wasrud/NVE / NTB scanpix
All of Norway mourns the destruction and loss of life in the village of Ask after a catastrophic landslide.

The Local

A major landslide took place in the early hours of Dec. 30 in Ask, a village in the municipality of Gjerdrum near Oslo, making headlines around the world. 

Houses were shifted and destroyed under a torrent of mud.

While three people remain unaccounted for, authorities said they are now presumed dead, bringing the official death toll from the landslide to 10, although only seven bodies have been recovered.

“We no longer have hope of finding people alive in the landslide,” Ida Melbo Øystese, police chief for Norway’s eastern district, told a press briefing on Jan. 5.

The latest body was found near where two others had been recovered by teams backed up by sniffer dogs, helicopters, and drones. 

Five of the recovered victims have been identified. Ten people were also injured in the landslide, including one seriously enough to be transferred to Oslo for treatment.

The teams, who also sought to rescue family pets, dug channels in the ground to evacuate casualties. 

About 1,000 people of the town’s population of 5,000 were evacuated out of fears for the safety of their homes, as the land continues to move.

“It is a completely surreal and terrible situation,” said, evacuee Olav Gjerdingen.

Local residents left candles near the site of the tragedy. The rescuers received a visit on Jan. 3 from King Harald, Queen Sonja, and Crown Prince Haakon, who also lit candles for the victims in a local church.

“I’m having trouble finding something to say, because it’s absolutely horrible,” the king said after the visit.

The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) said the disaster was a “quick clay slide” of about 328 by 875 yards. Quick clay is a type of clay found in Norway and Sweden that can collapse and turn fluid when overstressed.

Following the recommendations of the NVE, authorities decided to narrow the evacuation, allowing some local people to return to their homes.          

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 15, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Local

This article first appeared in The Local, a independent source for Norway's news in English. Visit www.thelocal.no.

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