Helsinki (AFP) – Rescue teams are searching for survivors four days after the landslide that led to the displacement of homes in a Norwegian village, finding no signs of life on Saturday amid destroyed buildings and debris.
Two bodies have been recovered, but researchers are still searching for eight other people believed to be missing. The landslide in Ask Village is the worst in the modern history of Norway and has shocked the citizens of the northern country.
Ground search teams patrolled with the dogs as helicopters and drones equipped with cameras to detect heat flew through the harsh winter conditions on the fractured hillside of the 5,000-person Askar village 25 kilometers (16 miles) northeast of Oslo.
Norwegian police pledged not to cut back on searches, although a rescue team from neighboring Sweden has already returned home.
Local police chief Ida Milbo Oestizi said survivors could still be found in air pockets inside the destroyed buildings.
“Medically speaking, you can survive for several days if you have air,” she told reporters at a news conference.
By Saturday afternoon, a second body had been found, after the first body was discovered on Friday. Only a Dalmatian dog has been rescued alive from the rubble so far.
Late Friday, Norwegian police released the names and years of birth of the 10 people who were initially reported missing, including a two-year-old. Officials have not yet identified the two recovered bodies.
A landslide early Wednesday cut its way through Ask, leaving a deep, crater-like ravine that cars could not pass. Pictures and video footage showed dramatic scenes of buildings hanging on the edge of the valley, which grew to be 700 meters long and 300 meters wide. At least nine buildings containing more than 30 apartments were destroyed.
The rescue operation is hampered by the limited number of daylight hours in the area at this time of year and concerns about soil erosion. The ground is fragile at the site and unlikely to bear the weight of rescue equipment, including a heavy Norwegian army vehicle.
More than 1,000 people have been evacuated, and officials said that as many as 1,500 people may be relocated from the area amid fears of more landslides.
The exact cause of the accident is not known yet, but the Girdrum is known to have a lot of rapid mud, a form of clay that can change from solid to liquid. Experts said the mud with heavy rain and typical wet weather conditions in Norway may have contributed to the landslide.
Norwegian authorities in 2005 warned people against building apartment buildings in the area, but homes were built there later in the decade.
Spokeswoman Toril Hofschagen of the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate described the landslide as unique in its destruction.
“There has not been a rapid landslide in this distance since 1893 in Norway,” Hofshagen told Norwegian media on Saturday.
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