PHOTO: Rescue crews searched for people in Gjerdrum through the night, no new survivors found

Sea King rescue helicopterPhoto: Jil Yngland / NTB
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The search and rescue operation for the ten missing people after the landslide in Gjerdrum has been going on through the night. A rescue dog has searched the landslide area, but no new survivors were found.

The rescue work continued in the dark in Ask in Gjerdrum municipality through the night.

Both helicopters and drones have been used. A rescue dog also searched the landslide area, the police announced at 6 o’clock on Thursday.

Unfortunately, no new survivors were found.

Listening and observation posts have also been set up throughout the night. The weather conditions at the site make the search operation difficult.

“We have searched with Sea King rescue helicopter and drones all night, but it has unfortunately been unsuccessful,” operations manager Karianne Knutsen in the Eastern Police District told news bureau NTB just before six o’clock Thursday morning.

At 1:43 AM, a dog that was in the landslide area was rescued by helicopter. The Dalmatian named Zajka will now be reunited with his owners.

On Thursday morning, the search operation will be stepped up.

Gjerdrum search rescue
Photo: Terje Bendiksby / NTB

One of Norway’s largest landslides

The landslide in Gjerdrum is among the largest in Norway’s history.

The landslide took place in the morning on Wednesday while it was still dark. In the evening, there was still movement in the landslide, which is 700 meters long and 300 meters wide, according to the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE).

There has been some confusion about how many buildings have been taken by the landslide, but the final count amounts to a total of nine buildings with a total of 31 housing units. Additionally, there are also six garage houses with five garage spaces each.

Among the ten people that have not yet been accounted for, there are both men and women of different ages, as well as children.

Police: People probably still present in the landslide area

Search crews are still looking for survivors. Initially, 26 people were not accounted for, but the number has been downgraded several times throughout Wednesday.

Among the 16 who showed up during the day on Wednesday, several managed to get out of the area independently but lacked opportunities to let the authorities know.

The police believe there are still people in the landslide area. 

Photo: Terje Bendiksby / NTB

Extensive rescue operation

All emergency services have been heavily present in the area. Help has been called in from the Armed Forces, the Home Guard, the Civil Defense, and voluntary organizations.

A Swedish crisis team has been sent to Gjerdrum to contribute to the search for missing persons in the landslide area and secure buildings. 

Denmark has also offered help, but the Norwegian authorities have not accepted it so far.

Norway’s foremost experts have worked to get an overview of the landslide, the extent, and the risk in Gjerdrum. NVE sent geologists to the site as early as Wednesday night to assist the police.

The inner landslide area is only accessible by helicopter, and Sea King helicopters have hovered over and assisted all day. 

Several people have been lifted up from the landslide zone and helped out of the area from the air. 

Heat-seeking cameras saved lives on Wednesday, according to police.

A disaster

Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H) was at the scene on Wednesday, together with Minister of Justice Monica Mæland (H). Both Solberg and the police refer to the landslide as a disaster.

“It is probably one of the biggest landslides we have had, and with the biggest consequences,” Solberg said.

A total of ten people have been transported to the hospital and emergency room after the landslide, but none of them are seriously injured.

Around 1,000 people have been evacuated so far.

A clearly moved Gjerdrum mayor, Anders Østensen (AP), said on Wednesday night that he hoped that many of the missing were traveling, at their cabin, or similar.

“We are not a big place, so it is clear that this affects us. The chance that we know many of those who are affected is great,” he said.

Gjerdrum church was open Wednesday night. The church will be open in the next few days, and priests will be available to talk with people.

“We pray and hope for those affected, the missing, and for those who participate in the relief work and crisis management,” Bishop Atle Sommerfeldt said.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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