No hope of finding landslide survivors: Norway rescue workers

Rescue workers interrupt the search in the ruins, after an alarm was triggered in the area on January 5, 2021 on the site of a major landslide that occurred in Ask, Norway. – Three people are still missing after the landslide hit the village of Ask in the municipality of Gjerdrum 25 kilometres north-east of Oslo in the early hours of December 30, 2020. (Photo by Terje Pedersen / NTB / AFP) / Norway OUT

Norwegian rescue workers on Tuesday abandoned hope of finding survivors from a landslide that buried homes in a village six days ago, killing 10 people.

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

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

“Ten people have lost their lives, three are still missing,” she added.

“We have examined all the areas where it is possibly imaginable that someone has survived. We have done everything in our power,” Melbo Oystese stressed.

While no longer hoping to find survivors, the search continues for the bodies of those still missing.

Rescue workers have tackled snow and freezing temperatures in the search in and around the village of Ask about 25 kilometres (15 miles) northeast of Oslo.

The landslide hit in the early hours of December 30, sweeping away nine buildings.

The seven recovered bodies, including those of a two-year-old girl, her father and her pregnant mother, were pulled out of the tangled mix of debris, earth and snow.

Rescue efforts had to be temporarily halted earlier on Tuesday when the earth began to shift again, although no one was hurt.

The landslide also left 10 people injured and more than 1,000 people from the municipality of Gjerdrum were evacuated, although some have since returned to their homes.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who went to Ask on Wednesday, said the landslide was “one of the largest” that Norway had ever experienced.

Local residents have left candles near the site of the tragedy.

The earth that shifted contains a specific clay called quick clay, present in Norway and Sweden, which can turn to fluid when overstressed.