Norway rescuers seek landslide survivors into the night

·2-min read

Norwegian rescue workers said late Monday they were still hoping to find survivors from a landslide that buried homes in a village five days ago, killing at least seven people.

Three people are still missing after the disaster struck the village of Ask about 25 kilometres (15 miles) northeast of Oslo in the early hours of December 30.

"We are still in a rescue operation, which means we believe we can still find survivors," search operation chief Roger Pettersen told reporters, adding that his teams would work into the night.

Nine buildings were swept away by the landslide and rescue workers have so far found the bodies of seven people, including a two-year-old girl, her father and her pregnant mother, in the tangled mix of debris, earth and snow.

"If a person is trapped under a collapsed building and the person in question has air, insulation and access to liquid, then one can survive for a very long time," local firefighting chief Morten Thoresen said.

But with winter temperatures around -10 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit) "it is a difficult injury site," he added.

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.

After a break overnight to allow conditions for rescue dogs to improve, the teams resumed their search early Monday.

King Harald visited the site on Sunday. "I'm having trouble finding something to say, because it's absolutely horrible," he said, visibly moved, after the visit.

"This terrible event impacts us all. I sympathise with you who are beginning the new year with sadness and uncertainty."

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.

While the likelihood of a similar landslide in the region remains low according to the Norwegian Directorate of Water and Energy, the authority added that minor slips were still going on.