The Swiss authorities evacuated this Friday the Brienz village in the southeastern Swiss Alpsgiven the threat of imminent collapse of the mountain flank that rises above it.
“There is no one in town anymore”confirmed around 7:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. GMT), Christian Gartmann, head of communication for the Albula commune, on which Brienz depends, to the Keystone-ATS agency.
Local deputies and rescue services made sure that the 84 inhabitants of the town and the cattle had evacuated the town.
A few hours before, the commune had activated the red phase and no access to the village starting at 18:00 local (16:00 GMT), while the last inhabitants completed the evacuation.
The activation of this phase implies that slippage could occur in 4 to 14 daysindicated the commune.
The Federal Office for Civil Aviation (OFAC) announced a “temporary airspace restriction” until May 17 within a radius of about 3.5 kilometers in the region of the village, to protect potential ground and air interventions.
Two million cubic meters of rock threaten to fall the extent of the damage cannot be predicted. Shortly before the landslide, the authorities will close several roads and the railway line.
The 84 inhabitants of Brienz, in the canton of Grisons, located 30 km from Davos and about 50 from the exclusive ski resort of Saint Moritz, began to be evacuated on Tuesday.
The authorities decided to speed up the game when they found that millions of tons of rocks that threaten the village are moving faster than the specialists had anticipated.
Experts cannot predict how the flank will detach, but the most probable hypothesis, and the least threatening, is that of an avalanche of landslides.
A slow but long landslide is also contemplated that could damage the village. The least probable thing is that there will be a massive, rapid and large-scale collapse, of more than 500,000 cubic meters of rock, with devastating consequences.
The possible disappearance of Brienz under the rocks has aroused the attention of the Swiss media this week, which have conveyed the concerns of the residents of the town in their interviews. “We don’t know if our Brienz will exist in two weeks”declared with emotion Anna Bergamin, one of the residents of the town, to the Swiss agency ATS.
It is not the first time that a landslide and rocks have threatened a town in the Swiss Alps: in 2017, a disaster of this type forced the evacuation of 200 residents of the town of Bondo, also in Grisons. On that occasion, three million cubic meters of rock fell downhill, causing the death of eight mountaineers and economic losses to the town of more than 40 million euros.
The worst catastrophe of this type dates back to 1806when a slide of 40 million cubic meters of debris buried 457 people and hundreds of cattle in the central canton of Schwyz.
Geologists consider that between 6 and 8 percent of the Swiss territory is unstable, although the risk areas are frequently controlled and evacuations can be organized in time.
With information from AFP and EFE
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