Rescuers were using helicopters, drones and dogs on Thursday to save the unstable ground after a large landslide ravaged homes in a village in the Norwegian capital of Oslo. Local officials said at least 10 people were still unconscious and 10 others were injured.
An entire hill in Gajerdum municipality, located 15 miles northeast of the capital, collapsed on Wednesday night. News agency Reuters reported that the houses had been crushed in dense, deep mud and were not yet destabilized to reach the rescue team on Thursday.
Temperatures below freezing and snowfall attempted to shore up the remaining structures and make the missing even more challenging, with some homes being abandoned on the edge of the pit created by the slide. On Wednesday, several buildings fell on the shore.
Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who visited a village of about 1,000 people on Wednesday, called the landslide “the largest country ever”.
“Being here is a dramatic experience,” Solberg told reporters.
“The situation is still so volatile with mud that it is not possible to do anything other than rescue the helicopter,” she said.
Norwegian media said 700 people were evacuated from their homes, and the municipality warned that 1,500 people may be required to leave the area due to security concerns.
“We are still searching for survivors,” Reuters quoted Roger Pettersen, chief of police operations at the site, as saying the children and adults were still missing.
Police said 10 people were seriously injured in Oslo, 10 people were injured.
Pettersen said Wednesday that people had received emergency calls stating that their entire homes were moving with them. Overnight helicopters used heat-scanning technology to search for people, and as part of their efforts, they landed several rescue teams on the structures.
“There are dramatic reports and the situation is critical,” Peterson said.
According to the Norwegian Water Resource and Energy Directorate (NVE), what happened was the so-called “quick mud slide” of approximately 328 to 766 yards.
“This is the largest landslide in recent times in Norway, considering the number of homes involved and evacuations,” NVE spokesman Laila Hoivic told AFP.
Quick clay is a type of soil found in Norway and Sweden that can collapse and turn into liquid when overstressed.
“This area has been surveyed before, and is known to cover soil quickly. The area is less likely to have similar large slides,” said Hoivick.
Reuters quoted Norwegian broadcaster TV2 as saying that the 2005 Geological Survey had detected the soil and considered the area unsuitable for residential development, but new homes were built only a few years later on the ground.
King Harald of Norway said in a rare public statement that the accident had a “profound effect” on him.
“My thoughts are with all the affected, injured, who have lost their homes and are now living in fear and uncertainty to the full extent of the disaster,” he said.