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Ten still missing after Norway mudslide buries homes

Oslo – Rescue workers were still searching yesterday for survivors after a landslide that destroyed homes in a Norwegian village, leaving 10 people missing, including two children.

An entire hillside collapsed in Ask, 25 kilometres northeast of the capital Oslo overnight Tuesday, leading to the evacuation of around 1,000 people.

Homes were buried under mud, others cut in two and some houses were left teetering over a crater caused by the slide, with several falling over the edge.

“It’s very sad, absolutely indescribable. Terrible,” resident Markus Olsen told AFP at the bleak, snow-swept scene.

Toril Hofshagen, a Norwegian official involved in rescue operations, told NTB news agency that people had to be evacuated because conditions were unstable.

“There are cracks in the ground and clay is visible,” said Hofshagen, who is with the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE).

The NVE said the disaster was a “quick clay slide” of approximately 300 by 800 metres.

Quick clay is a sort of clay found in Norway and Sweden that can collapse and turn to fluid when overstressed.

Yesterday rescue workers searched two homes which had collapsed, looking for missing people, but found nobody.

“The remainder of the homes in the area are completely destroyed,” chief of operations Roger Pettersen told a press conference.

He had said earlier “it is important for me to stress that we are looking for survivors,” adding better visibility during the day would help efforts.

Police said 10 people had been injured including one seriously who was transferred to Oslo for treatment.

One-fifth of the 5,000 strong population of the municipality of Gjerdum that includes Ask have been evacuated.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg visited the village on Wednesday and described the landslide as “one of the largest” the country had seen.

“It’s a dramatic experience to be here,” Solberg told reporters.

The municipality warned as many as 1,500 people could need to leave the region out of safety concerns.

The authorities issued an appeal to people not to set off fireworks for New Year’s Eve which could hinder the use of helicopters and drones equipped with thermal cameras. — AFP

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