Norway’s Mannen landslide ‘postponed’ until next year after movement slows

Authorities in Norway do not expect a landslip at the unstable Mannen mountainside in Romsdalen until next year.

Norway’s Mannen landslide 'postponed' until next year after movement slows
Photo: Torstein Bøe / NTB scanpix

The Veslemannen section of the mountainside is now not expected to come loose this year, with risk alerts reduced from red to yellow on Wednesday.

Evacuated residents will now return to their homes, reports newspaper VG.

“We have decided to reduce the risk level to yellow. The basis for this is clearly reduced movement,” lead geologist Lars Harald Blikra of the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) told VG.

On Sunday, warning levels were increased to red and residents were evacuated from the area, while NVE on Tuesday pumped water on to the Veslemannen slope in an effort to initiate a landslide.

Residents are now free to return to their homes, Ole Kjell Talberg of Rauma Municipality told VG.

People living in at-risk areas close to the mountain have had to temporarily leave their homes on four previous occasions in the last four years.

The efforts to dislodge the moving ground on Tuesday were seen as a last possible attempt this year, with colder weather oncoming, thereby freezing natural water flow.

Although the water pumping increased the rate of movement of the ground, it was not enough to stimulate a landslide which would have stabilised the slope, writes VG.

Weather forecasts have now been borne out, with snow falling at the Mannen peak and the rate of movement of the land reduced.

The section of the 1,294-metre Mannen peak in the Rauma municipality in Romsdalen is one of Norway’s most closely-monitored for landslide risks.

Geologists refer to the unstable section of the Mannen mountainside as ‘Veslemannen’ (‘The Little Man').

Veslemannen is about 1,200 metres above sea level and has a volume of 120,000 to 180,000 cubic metres – about one percent of the total volume of Mannen.

Heightened landslide risk on the mountain dates back to 2014.

READ ALSO: Norway authorities take measures to start landslide at Mannen mountain


Norway rescue workers end search for landslide survivors

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.

Norway rescue workers end search for landslide survivors
Photo: AFP

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 Øystese, 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 Øystese 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 northeast of Oslo.

The landslide hit in the early hours of December 30th, 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.