Search for survivors after fatal landslide in Norwegian village

Rescue teams in a Norwegian village were still searching for survivors on Saturday, four days after a landslide buried several houses.

Three bodies have been recovered so far, but teams are looking for seven more people who are still missing.

Search teams on the ground are aided by helicopters and drones with heat-sensing cameras amid harsh winter conditions on the devastated hillside in the town of Ask, about 25 kilometers (16 miles) northeast of Oslo.

Police vowed not to slow down the search despite the fact that a rescue team from neighboring Sweden has already returned home.

Local police chief Ida Melbo Oeystese said survivors can still be found in the air pockets formed inside the destroyed buildings.

“Medically, you can survive several days if you have air,” he told reporters at a news conference.

On Saturday afternoon a second body was found in the area; the first was found on Friday. A Dalmatian dog was rescued alive.

The landslide is the worst in modern Norwegian history and has shocked the citizens of the Nordic nation.

On Friday night, police released the names and years of birth of the 10 people initially reported missing. They include a 2 year old child. Authorities have not yet identified the two recovered bodies.

The landslide cut across a road through Ask, home to about 5,000 people, leaving a deep crater-like ravine that cars could not pass through.

Photos and video footage showed dramatic scenes of buildings hanging loose on the edge of the ravine.

At least nine buildings with more than 30 apartments were destroyed.

The rescue operation was hampered by limited daylight hours, fears of further soil erosion, and the site’s fragile soil, which is unlikely to support the weight of the rescue team, including a heavy vehicle from the army.

More than 1,000 people have been evacuated and authorities said up to 1,500 people could be moved from the area in fear of more landslides.

King Harald V, Queen Sonja and Crown Prince Haakon plan to visit the area on Sunday to pay their respects to the victims and meet with residents and first responders. The 83-year-old monarch said in his New Year’s speech that the royal family was deeply moved by the tragedy.

Although the causes of the avalanche are unknown, the area is known to have a large amount of so-called fast clay, which is a type of clay that can change from a solid to a liquid form. Experts said the substance of the clay combined with excessive rainfall and humid weather conditions may have contributed to the landslide.

Local press reported that authorities warned companies in 2005 not to build houses in the area, but houses were eventually built there in the following years.


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