The latecomers packed their belongings into cars, trucks and at least one pickup truck ahead of a looming deadline Friday to evacuate a village in eastern Switzerland facing an urgent threat of landslides.
About 2 million cubic meters of rock on an Alpine mountain may soon collapse.
As geologists and other glow-vest experts took measurements on Friday, villagers and holidaymakers expressed their excitement that the centuries-old Alpine village of Brienz – home to fewer than 100 residents – could soon be submerged in the spill of rock.
THE AUTHORITIES IN SWITZERLAND ORDER THE EVACUATION OF THE INHABITANTS OF THE SMALL VILLAGE DUE TO LANDSLIDE ALERT
The rumble of shifting ground and the occasional crackle of some rocks colliding and sliding down underscore the growing urgency for locals to leave the city by the 6pm deadline set by the Swiss authorities.
A woman loaded a pickup truck with a caged turtle and other belongings while neighbors also loaded cars and trucks.
A Zurich woman who has spent years vacationing in bucolic and quiet Brienz, wandered about 100 feet away from one last barrier at the edge of the village to gaze worriedly at the mountainside. You asked not to be quoted by a journalist.
At a local town hall meeting on Tuesday, authorities ordered an evacuation and said people would not be allowed to stay overnight after Friday, although they could return from time to time starting on Saturday, depending on the level of risk.
The centuries-old village straddles the German- and Romansh-speaking parts of the Eastern Grisons region, located southwest of Davos at an elevation of approximately 3,800 feet.
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The mountain and the rocks on it have moved since the last ice age, local officials say. But they released a statement on Tuesday saying measurements indicated a “strong acceleration over a large area” over the past few days and “up to 2 million cubic meters of rock material will collapse or slide over the next seven to 24 days.”
Christian Gartmann, a crisis management council member in the city of Albula, which counts Brienz in its municipality, said experts estimate there is a 60 percent chance the rock will fall into smaller pieces, which may not reach the village or the valley. The landslide could also be moving slowly.
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But there’s also a 10 percent chance that the 2 million cubic meter mass could leak, threatening lives, property and the village itself, he said.
Gartmann said that melting glaciers had affected the precariousness of rocks for millennia, but melting glaciers due to “man-made” climate change in recent decades was not a factor.