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Swiss village is evacuated under rockslide threat

Brienz/Brinzauls, situated in southeast Switzerland, is in imminent danger of destruction due to the nearby crumbling mountain. © Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller

The Swiss village of Brienz/Brinzauls, which sits beneath an extremely unstable mountain, was placed on red alert and its 84 residents were evacuated by 6pm on Friday.

The local authorities in canton Graubünden, in southeast Switzerland, raised the alert level from orange to red on Friday evening. This means that no-one will be allowed to enter the village with the evacuation complete.

The Federal Office for Civil Aviation has also issued a no-fly zone over the village, extending to an altitude of 3,050 metres with a 3.5 kilometre radius. 

Towering over Brienz/Brinzauls, a rock volume of two million cubic metres is slipping so fast that it is expected to break loose imminently.

The authorities said they would trigger the red alert once they thought the break-off of the rock mass would happen within the next two weeks.

The 84 residents of the village have all been rehoused temporarily a safe distance from the mountain.

In the worst-case scenario, several large rocks could tumble down the mountain reaching speeds of up to 200 km/per hour, Simon Löw, a geology professor at the federal technology institute ETH Zurich, told Swiss public broadcaster SRF.

This scenario has the potential to destroy the village, Löw said.


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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR