Mountain sets off a new ‘red alert’

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The Norwegian mountain known as “Mannen” was once again threatening to crash down into the valley below it on Tuesday, prompting state officials to issue a new “red alert” and evacuate those living there.

The mountains where Mannen lies in Romsdal is a spectacularly scenic area of Norway, favoured by climbers, hikers and, not least, BASE jumpers. PHOTO: NVE

State geologists have been constantly monitoring the mountain known as “Mannen” and issued new warnings after detecting movement of as much as 20 centimeters. The mountain towers above one of the many scenic valleys in Norway’s Romsdal district. PHOTO: NVE

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Tuesday afternoon that geologists had detected a new round of unusual movement in the mountain that’s under constant monitoring because of its chronic instability.

“We’re putting our preparedness plans into action,” Ove Brudevoll, acting leader of the police in Nordmøre and Romsdal, told NRK. “It’s been decided that the area be evacuated and that no one be allowed to remain there. We’re getting help from both the local municipality and civil defense.”

Lars Harald Blikra, chief geologist at Norway’s state agency in charge of waterways that also monitors landmass movement, said instruments mounted on Mannen (The Man) have shown movement of 20 centimeters a day. “That’s among the highest levels we have experienced at Mannen,” Blikra told NRK.

The mountain, which soars 1,200 meters above the small settlement of Horgheim in Romsdal, southeast of Åndalsnes, was the subject of much drama two years ago as well, when geologists also issued warnings that it would fall. After months of concern, they also evacuated residents below and halted the Rauma train line running through the valley.

The mountain remained intact, however, with no rock slides occurring after all. Now, Blikra said the situation seemed even worse than in the fall of 2014. He linked the sudden major movement of the mountain to the heavy rain that’s been falling this summer all over western Norway.

“The danger has increased in connection with the enormous quantities of rain we’ve had lately,” he told NRK. He said that nearly 20 millimeters of rain fell in a six-hour period at the top of Mannen, destabilizing the mountainside.

Lars Olav Hustad, mayor of Rauma, said local political leaders were working with both police, civil defense and state officials. “This isn’t the first time we’ve had to evacuate,” said Brudevoll of the local police, “and we realize it creates uncertainty and a sense of insecurity in the area.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund