‘I ran for my life’: Houses swept into sea in huge landslide in Norway

Harry Cockburn
Cabin owner Jan Bakkeby filmed the destruction after he ran for his life during the catastrophic landslide: Jan Bakkeby/Twitter/Screengrab

Several houses were washed away when a large piece of land was suddenly swept into the sea in a major landslide in Norway.

The powerful earth movement on the western side of Kråkneset in Alta municipality on Wednesday afternoon severed a piece of land over half a kilometre in width and 160 metres deep, which had eight properties on it.

Within minutes of the first movements, the houses had been dragged into the sea.

No-one is known to be injured at this stage, and rescue services currently believe everyone has been accounted for.

One person was evacuated by helicopter and a dog reportedly swam to safety.

Police were called to reports of a landslide at 3.45pm, and the rescue operation was over by 7pm.

Local resident Jan Egil Bakkeby said: “I had just made two slices of toast when I heard a bang in the cabin. At first I thought there was someone in the loft, but then I saw out of the window that the power cord was smoking and then I saw that it was raining.

“I stormed out and fled up the mountainside where I saw it all from a distance. You could say I ran for my life,” he told local news outlet Altaposten.

He said he then stood watching from the mountainside where he documented the cabin, which he and his wife have had for 19 years, being rapidly destroyed by the huge earth movements.

He also said he and his wife had seen cracks appear the day before. “We saw a large and deep crack in the road below the cabin. We were a bit sceptical, but still chose to stay overnight,” he said.

“We thought maybe the road would crash, but not that the whole cabin would go. Today we drove to work, but I drove back today and was, as I said, [there] when it happened.”

Emergency services have been unable to enter the affected area due to ongoing instability, but police are working to confirm nobody remains unaccounted for.

Many of the buildings washed away are reportedly holiday homes and more would have been occupied just 48 hours before – over the weekend.

The reason for the landslide is not known, but there is a lot of quick clay in the region which leads to unstable soil, and rapid landslides.

The last landslide in the area was a year ago, according to Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The incident is reminiscent of a massive quick clay landslide at Rissa in central Norway in April 1978, in which one person died and 13 farms, two houses, a cabin and a community centre were swept away.

Read more

Oil lobbyists for UK firms push Norway to avoid strict Arctic curbs

Norway accused of ‘acting like Trump’ over Arctic protection zone move

Norway's sovereign wealth fund gains £140bn in one year

Norway and the EU have the kind of fishing agreement that the UK needs