GENEVA: A Swiss village came within a hair’s breadth of being wiped off the map when a mountain towering above it collapsed overnight, officials said on Friday.
The massive rockslide missed Brienz in the east of the country, which had been evacuated on Monday, “by a hair”, they said.
The 84 inhabitants were ordered from their homes on Monday after the authorities said the Insel peak had become instable.
They said two million cubic metres of rock could come down within days. The rockslide finally happened between 11:00pm (local time) and midnight.
“A large part of Insel collapsed rapidly. There is no indication of damage in the village, with the rock mass having stopped just in front of the village,” according to a statement from local authorities.
A metre-high wall of mud and rock came to a halt just in front of the village school, it said. Climate change is putting Switzerland at increased risk of natural hazards, including an increase in erosion due to higher temperatures, Swiss authorities say.
Geologists are due to provide an assessment of the landslide and possible future scenarios after surveying the area from a helicopter. But already there are fears of more rockfalls.
“We’re assuming that unfortunately this is not yet all,” Christian Gartmann, a regional spokesman, told the Keystone-ATS agency.
The village’s residents have been in temporary accommodation since their evacuation.—AFP
The slide has forced the Tour de Suisse cycling race to delay Friday’s stage, which was due to take place in the area.
Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2023