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Norway landslide: Sixth body found as rescuers continue search

Publishedduration1 hour agoimage copyrightReutersimage captionCandles burned for those who have died in the landslide at AskFive bodies have now been found in the search for the missing following a massive landslide that destroyed homes in Norway, police have said.Four bodies were discovered on Friday and Saturday, and another one on Sunday morning. The first victim…

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image copyrightReuters

image captionCandles burned for those who have died in the landslide at Ask

Five bodies have now been found in the search for the missing following a massive landslide that destroyed homes in Norway, police have said.

Four bodies were discovered on Friday and Saturday, and another one on Sunday morning. The first victim to be found was named as Eirik Grønole, 31.

Five people remain missing following the hillside collapse that sent mud into the village of Ask on Wednesday.

Rescuers are working to find survivors, but chances of this are fading.

media caption“I wish I could switch place with my daughter” – Odd Steinar Sørengen’s daughter is missing

The king and queen of Norway visited the site of the landslide on Sunday.

image copyrightReuters

image captionQueen Sonja and King Harald light candles in Gjerdrum Church in memory of the victims

What’s the latest with rescue efforts?

Following Wednesday’s mudslide – which sent homes toppling into a giant chasm – it was considered too dangerous to send rescuers onto the site.

Helicopters and drones spent two days searching the scene – in Gjerdrum municipality, 25km (15 miles) north-east of the capital Oslo – before Police Commander Alkvist said one or two houses appeared safe to enter.

Rescuers began moving into the danger zone on Styrofoam boards; the bright orange boards were laid down on the mud in a domino-effect as rescuers tried to reach the wrecked homes.

A giant army vehicle called a “paver”, which has a giant steel bridge on which rescuers can move, was also brought in, but conditions were not yet good enough for the 50-tonne machine to be deployed.

image copyrightEPA

image captionThe plan is to deploy a Norwegian army bridge-laying vehicle as soon as conditions are good enough

A Swedish rescue team aiding the search was replaced on Saturday with an urban search-and-rescue team, containing five dog handlers, from Trondheim in northern Norway.

Rescuers are in a race against time, with only a few hours of daylight in the Norwegian winter to search the area. The conditions have also proved challenging, with temperatures dropping to -1C (30F) and the clay ground proving too unstable for emergency workers to walk on.

Who is missing?

Police on Friday published a list of the missing which comprise eight adults, a two-year-old and a 13-year-old child, the AFP news agency reports.

Among them is a woman who was talking to her husband on the phone while walking the dog when the line went dead, according to Bergens Tidende newspaper.

media captionAerial footage shows the scale of the landslide

Further reports say a 69-year-old woman and a couple and their small child are also missing, as well as a woman in her 50s and her adult son.

One survivor, Odd Steinar Sørengen, said his daughter was still missing. “I wish I could swap places with” her, he said, adding that he had been told by the police not to give up hope on finding her alive.

What do we know of the landslide?

Residents of Ask began calling emergency services at around 04:00 local time on Wednesday telling them that their houses were moving, police said.

“There were two massive tremors that lasted for a long while and I assumed it was snow being cleared or something like that,” Oeystein Gjerdrum, 68, told broadcaster NRK.

“Then the power suddenly went out, and a neighbour came to the door and said we needed to evacuate, so I woke up my three grandchildren and told them to get dressed quickly.”

Map

More than 30 homes were destroyed, with others teetering on the edges of the deep crater that was left by the landslide. At least 1,000 residents were evacuated from the area.

The landslide was a so-called “quick clay slide” measuring about 300m by 700m (985ft by 2,300ft), a spokeswoman for the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) told AFP.

Quick clay is a kind of clay found in Norway and Sweden that can collapse and behave as a fluid when it comes under stress.

Broadcaster NRK said heavy rainfall may have made the soil unstable, but questions have since emerged over why construction was permitted in the area.

A 2005 geological survey labelled the area as at high risk of landslides, according to a report seen by the broadcaster TV2. Despite this, the homes were built three years later in 2008.

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