At least eight homes were swept into the sea after a destructive landslide in Norway on Wednesday. There were no injuries or fatalities, according to NBC News. The report said all people were accounted for and only two people were in the cabins at the time of the landslide.
The landslide occurred in the vicinity of Alta, a city at the northern tip of Norway. At least one resident began noticing cracks in the ground on Tuesday, using a shovel to fix his driveway with dirt.
Anders Bjordal, an engineer at the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, told CNN that the extent of land claimed by the slide was about 650 meters long by 150 meters — roughly 24 acres. CNN reported that Bjordal’s team will be taking soil measurements next week to gauge the stability of the remaining land.
Multiple news outlets reported that a dog was rescued by helicopter after swimming into the sea.
The landslide occurred before 4 p.m. local time Wednesday, prompting officials to dispatch police, helicopters and rescue dogs and to alert the Red Cross.
Landslides are the result of processes that weaken the structural integrity of a sloping land mass, like a hill or mountainside. It boils down to a problem of how much stress the layered, interlocked soil particulates of a slope can endure before that stress overcomes the friction holding the layers in place.
Remember those tall, long metal playground slides that were a staple of schoolyards? There may have been times when you sat at the top and, unless actively pushing yourself, barely slid downward. That’s because the frictional force between you and the slide was greater than the gravity that would drag you down the slide.
But imagine you tried again, this time wearing a backpack filled with heavy books or rocks. The addition or redistribution of mass may help you exceed what’s holding you back, and down you go.
The same is true with hillsides. Sometimes, meteorological effects, such as soil saturation or a rise in groundwater levels, can have an influence. Other times, ground-shaking caused by earthquakes can do the trick. And human activities, like deforestation, mining, agriculture, or development, can play a role.
Conditions leading up to the landslide show fair weather with temperatures peaking around 61 degrees Wednesday afternoon. The cause of the landslide is still being determined.