Latecomers packed belongings into cars, trucks and at least one pickup truck before a Friday deadline to evacuate a village in eastern Switzerland facing an urgent threat from a rockslide.
About 2 million cubic meters of rock on an alpine mountain could soon collapse.
As geologists and other specialists in fluorescent vests took measurements on Friday, villagers and tourists alike revealed their excitement that the century-old Alpine village of Brienz – home to fewer than 100 residents – could soon be subsumed under the rockfall.
SWISS AUTHORITIES ORDER SMALL VILLAGE RESIDENTS TO EVACUATE UNDER ROCKSLIDES ALERT
The rumble of shifting ground and the sporadic crackle of some rocks colliding and sliding underscored the growing urgency for residents to get out of the city by the 6pm deadline set by Swiss authorities.
One woman loaded a pickup truck with a caged turtle and other belongings while neighbors packed up cars and trucks as well.
A Zurich woman, who for years had spent her holidays in bucolic and calm Brienz, walked about 30 meters away from a last barrier at the edge of the village to look worriedly at the mountainside. She asked not to be quoted by a reporter.
At a local town hall meeting on Tuesday, officials ordered the evacuation and said people would not be allowed to stay overnight after Friday, although they could return from Saturday onwards depending on the level of risk.
The century old village straddles German and Romansh speaking parts of the eastern Graubunden region, lying southwest of Davos at an elevation of around 3,800 feet.
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The mountain and rocks have been moving since the last Ice Age, local officials say. But they issued a statement on Tuesday saying measurements had indicated “strong acceleration over a large area” in recent 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 member of the crisis management council in the town of Albula, which counts Brienz in its municipality, said experts estimate there is a 60% chance that the rock will fall in smaller pieces, which may not reach the village or the OK. Landslide can also move slowly.
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But there is also a 10% chance that the 2 million cubic meter mass could spill out, threatening lives, property and the village itself, he said.
Gartmann said melting glaciers had affected rock precariousness over millennia, but melting glaciers due to “man-made” climate change in recent decades was not a factor.