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‘No more hope of finding survivors’ after Norway landslide

Three people are still missing after the December 30 disaster in the village of Ask.

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Rescue workers continue their efforts on the site of a landslide in Gjerdrum, Norway, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. Norwegian officials are insisting that there’s “still hope” of finding survivors in air pockets five days after a landslide killed several people as it carried away homes in a village near the capital. (Fredrik Hagen/NTB via AP)

Rescue workers continue their efforts on the site of a landslide in Gjerdrum, Norway, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. Norwegian officials are insisting that there’s “still hope” of finding survivors in air pockets five days after a landslide killed several people as it carried away homes in a village near the capital. (Fredrik Hagen/NTB via AP)

Rescue workers continue their efforts on the site of a landslide in Gjerdrum, Norway, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. Norwegian officials are insisting that there’s “still hope” of finding survivors in air pockets five days after a landslide killed several people as it carried away homes in a village near the capital. (Fredrik Hagen/NTB via AP)

Norwegian authorities have said they “no longer hope to find survivors” after a landslide swept away homes in a residential area almost a week ago, killing seven people.

Three people are still missing after the December 30 disaster that destroyed at least nine buildings with more than 30 apartments in the village of Ask, 16 miles north east of Oslo.

The landslide was among the worst in modern Norwegian history.

“It is with great sadness that I must say that we no longer have any hope of finding people alive after the landslide” local police chief Ida Melbo Oeystese said.

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Rescue crews at the scene (Terje Bendiksby/NTB/AP)

Rescue crews at the scene (Terje Bendiksby/NTB/AP)

AP/PA Images

Rescue crews at the scene (Terje Bendiksby/NTB/AP)

“We have done everything in our power. But this natural disaster had significant forces. Those who died have died relatively quickly.”

Search crews will continue “working to find everyone who is missing”, Ms Oeystese said.

The police chief spoke hours after a small dog was found alive in the rubble, raising hopes for rescuers. The dog was found “in good condition” in an area where rescuers had been working, police spokesman Ivar Myrboe said.

Another, smaller landslide just before midday on Tuesday forced the search terms to evacuate the site but no one was injured, police said.

One rescuer, Kenneth Wangen, said the landslide was “not dramatic” and search terms received advance warning from drones and emergency personnel.

Geologists will assess the site before the search continues, authorities said.

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The aftermath of the landslide in Ask (Fredrik Hagen/NTB/AP)

The aftermath of the landslide in Ask (Fredrik Hagen/NTB/AP)

AP/PA Images

The aftermath of the landslide in Ask (Fredrik Hagen/NTB/AP)

Prime minister Erna Solberg said she received the news about the abandoned search “with great sadness” and that her thoughts were with the friends and families of the victims.

Since the original landslide, search teams with dogs have been looking through the rubble in below-freezing temperatures while helicopters and drones with heat-detecting cameras flew over the ravaged hillside in the village of 5,000 residents.

At least 1,000 people were evacuated. Some buildings are hanging on the edge of a deep ravine, which grew to 2,300ft long and 1,000ft wide.

The cause of the landslide is not yet known, but the area has a lot of quick clay, which can rapidly change from solid to liquid when it is disturbed.

Experts said the quick clay, combined with excessive precipitation and damp winter weather, 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 eventually built there later in the decade.

A landslide in central Norway in 1893 killed 116 people. It was reportedly up to 40 times bigger that the one in Ask, where somewhere between 1.4 million and 2 million cubic metres of land tumbled down.

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