2 more bodies found six weeks after Norway landslide

International News

A general view as around 600 residents who were evacuated after the landslide in Gjerdrum Dec. 30, 2020 could return to their home on after the police have changed the evacuation zone, in Gjerdrum, Norway, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. (Heiko Junge / NTB via AP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Six weeks after one of the worst landslides in modern Norway’s history, search teams have found two more bodies in the rubble, authorities said.

In total, nine bodies have been found so far and one other person is believed to have died in the landslide, which swept away homes in a residential area in the village of Ask on Dec. 30.

Last month, authorities said there was no hope of finding survivors and stopped the search in below-freezing temperatures. Helicopters and drones with heat-detecting cameras had flown over the ravaged hillside in Ask, which has a population of around 5,000 residents and is part of the Gjerdrum municipality.

The landslide destroyed at least nine buildings with more than 30 apartments in the village, located 25 kilometers (16 miles) northeast of Oslo.

After the two latest bodies were found, police spokeswoman Mari Stoltenberg said late Tuesday there was now an increased hope of finding the last missing person.

Stoltenberg said the victims, which haven’t been identified yet, were found under two meters (more than six feet) of quick clay, which can rapidly change from solid to liquid form when it is disturbed. The exact cause of the landslide isn’t yet known. However, combined with excessive precipitation and damp winter weather, the quick clay may have contributed to the landslide.

In 2005, Norwegian authorities warned people not to construct residential buildings in the Ask area, saying it was “a high-risk zone” for landslides, but houses were built there later in the decade.

A landslide in central Norway in 1893 killed 116 people. It was reportedly up to 40 times bigger than the one in Ask, where somewhere between 1.4 million and 2 million cubic meters (49.4 million to 70.6 million cubic feet) of land tumbled down.

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