Norway’s largest landslide in recent history buries homes and leaves a dozen people unaccounted for

A major landslide destroyed homes overnight in a village in Norway close to the capital Oslo, leaving 12 people unaccounted for and 10 injured, police and local media said.

Video footage from the scene showed a whole hillside had collapsed in Ask, in the municipality of Gjerdrum, 25 kilometres northeast of the capital.

A helicopter near the site where a big landslide hit a residentaial area in Ask.


Homes were left crushed and buried in dark mud.

Snow fell throughout the morning as the emergency services evacuated the injured and attempted to secure those homes still standing.

Some houses had been left teetering on the edge of the crater left behind by the slide, with a few falling over the edge as the day went on.

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who travelled to the village of around 1,000 people on Wednesday, described the landslide as “one of the largest” the country had seen.

Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg during a press conference.

Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg during a press conference.


“It’s a dramatic experience to be here,” Ms Solberg told reporters, expressing particular concern for those still missing.

“The situation is still so unstable with the mud that it’s not yet possible to do anything other than helicopter rescues,” she added.

Norwegian media said that 700 people had been evacuated from their homes, and the municipality warned as many as 1,500 could need to leave the region out of safety concerns.

Some still missing

In the early evening, police reported that 12 people were still unaccounted for.

“We don’t know if these people are in the landslide area, if they are away on holiday or in another way unable to contact police,” the force said in a statement.

Police said 10 people were injured, with one transferred to Oslo with serious injuries.

“Police are designating this as a disaster,” chief of operations Roger Pettersen told broadcaster NRK.

Emergency calls had come in from people saying their whole house was moving, he said.

View from a rescue helicopter over the area of landslide in the village Ask.

View from a rescue helicopter over the area of landslide in the village Ask.

NTB/Norwegian Rescue Serrvice

“There are dramatic reports and the situation is serious,” Mr Pettersen said.

According to the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), what happened was a so-called “quick clay slide” of approximately 300 by 700 metres.

“This is the largest landslide in recent times in Norway, considering the number of houses involved and the number of evacuees,” NVE spokeswoman Laila Hoivik told AFP.

Further slides unlikely

Quick clay is a sort of clay found in Norway and Sweden that can collapse and turn to fluid when overstressed.

“The area has been surveyed earlier, and is known to contain quick clay,” Ms Hoivik said.

“The possibility of similar large slides in the area is low at the moment.”

Swedish daily Aftonbladet reported that Sweden was sending specially trained personnel to help in the rescue effort.

“We will help in the search for missing people and securing buildings,” operations leader Stefan Karlsson of the Gothenburg emergency services told the newspaper.

Norway’s King Harald said in a statement that the accident had “made a deep impression on me and my family”.

“My thoughts are with everyone affected, the injured, those who lost their homes and are now living in fear and uncertainty of the full extent of the disaster,” he said.

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Polar bear attacks man on Norway’s remote Svalbard islands, killing him

A polar bear has attacked a camping site in Norway’s remote Svalbard Islands, killing a 38-year-old Dutchman before being shot and killed by onlookers.

Johan Jacobus Kootte was in his tent when he was attacked by the bear that killed him, Deputy Governor Soelvi Elvedah said.

He was an employee of the Longyearbyen Camping site, where the attack occurred, local media said.

Mr Kootte was rushed to the hospital in Longyearbyen where he was declared dead, Mr Elvedah said.

Longyearbyen is the main settlement in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago, which sits more than 800 kilometres north of the Norwegian mainland.

The attack occurred just before 4:00am (local time) and was being investigated.

No one else was injured, but six people — three Germans, one Italian, one Norwegian and one Finn — were hospitalised for shock, authorities said.

Svalbard is dotted with warnings about polar bears and visitors who choose to sleep outdoors receive stern warnings.(Reuters: Anna Filipova)

Svalbard is dotted with warnings about polar bears and visitors who choose to sleep outdoors receive stern warnings from authorities that people must have instruments to scare the animals away or defend themselves, with authorities recommending they carry a gun.

Norwegian broadcaster NRK said the victim was the fifth person on Svalbard to have been killed by polar bears since 1971 — the last time it happened was in 2011 when a 17-year-old Brit was killed.

The polar bear was found dead in a parking lot by the nearby airport after being shot by onlookers, the Governor’s office said, adding it wasn’t clear whether the polar bear was one of two animals to have roamed the area this week.

“Polar beers can be found all over Svalbard and be encountered anywhere throughout the year.”

A polar bear walks along the edge of the water.
It’s estimated between 20,000-25,000 polar bears live in the Arctic.(Foreign Correspondent: Niall Lenihan)

Halfway between the northern tip of Europe and the North Pole, the Svalbard archipelago of snow-capped mountains and glaciers is home to 2,939 people and 975 polar bears, according to Norway’s statistics office and the Norwegian Polar Institute.

An estimated 20,000-25,000 polar bears live in the Arctic.

In 2015, a polar bear dragged a Czech tourist out of his tent as he and others were camping north of Longyearbyen, clawing his back before being driven away by gunshots. The bear was later found and killed by authorities.


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Norway’s KLP drops investment ban on Brazil’s Petrobras as governance improves

July 14, 2020

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s Petrobras said on Monday it is again eligible to receive investments from Norway’s largest pension fund, KLP, which had blocked investments in the state-owned oil firm following revelations of a sprawling corruption scheme.

Petroleo Brasileiro SA <PETR4.SA>, as Petrobras is formally known, said considerable improvement in its governance following the so-called Operation Car Wash corruption probe led KLP to declare Petrobras as eligible for investment.

KLP did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Operation Car Wash uncovered Brazil’s largest-ever corruption scheme in which hundreds of politicians and businesspeople were implicated in exchanging bribes for public contracts with Petrobras.

In a 2016 statement announcing its exclusion of Petrobras from its portfolios, KLP said it had 33.74 million NOK ($3.57 million) invested in Petrobras shortly before the decision was made.

(Reporting by Jake Spring and Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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