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article imageSixth body found in Norway mudslide, four still missing

By AFP     Jan 3, 2021 in Environment

Rescue workers have uncovered a sixth body from a landslide that buried homes in a village near Norway's capital Oslo, police said Sunday, with four people still missing.

The body was recovered just before 1 pm (1200 GMT), a police statement said. Rescue teams still hope to find survivors four days after the tragedy occurred.

A torrent of mud shifted houses hundreds of metres (yards), destroying many of them, in the village of Ask, 25 kilometres (15 miles) northeast of Oslo, on Wednesday.

Deadly landslide in Norway
Deadly landslide in Norway
Sophie RAMIS, AFP

The head of the rescue operation, Goran Syversen, told journalists earlier Sunday: "We are working hard in the depression created by the landslide.

"We have five teams working at the same time. They are doing very difficult work which is not without risk. Nevertheless, we are making good progress."

Search and rescue teams have been using sniffer dogs, helicopters and drones in a bid to find survivors.

"We are searching where we believe we might still find survivors," said the head of the team of firefighters, Kenneth Wangen, adding that the search zone had been expanded.

The teams, who are also seeking to rescue family pets, were digging channels in the ground to evacuate casualties.

Police said earlier that a fifth body had been found just before 6 am on Sunday. Three were discovered on Friday and one on Saturday.

The first person found on Friday was identified as 31-year-old Eirik Gronolen, while the identities of the four other dead have not been released.

A landslide north of the Norwegian capital Oslo last Wednesday swallowed up or badly damaged homes l...
A landslide north of the Norwegian capital Oslo last Wednesday swallowed up or badly damaged homes like this one. Rescue workers say they still hope to find survivors in air pockets.
Terje Pedersen, NTB/AFP

But police have published the names of all 10 people, including a two-year-old and a 13-year-old, who went missing on Wednesday.

Ten people were also injured in the landslide, including one seriously who was transferred to Oslo for treatment.

About 1,000 people of the town's population of 5,000 have been evacuated, because of fears for the safety of their homes as the land continues to move.

"It is a completely surreal and terrible situation," one of the evacuees, Olav Gjerdingen, told AFP, adding that his family were sheltering at a hotel.

- Royal visit -

The rescuers received a visit Sunday from King Harald, his wife Sonja and Crown Prince Haakon, who lit candles for the victims in a local church.

King Harald and Queen Sonja visited the site and lit candles for the victims in church
King Harald and Queen Sonja visited the site and lit candles for the victims in church
Lise ├ůserud, NTB/AFP

"I'm having trouble finding something to say, because it's absolutely horrible," the king said after the visit.

"This terrible event impacts us all. I sympathise with you who are beginning the new year with sadness and uncertainty," he said in a televised statement.

The authorities have banned all aircraft from the disaster area until 3 pm Monday as they conduct aerial searches.

The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) said the disaster was a "quick clay slide" of approximately 300 by 800 metres (yards).

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

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