Unstable mountain prompts evacuation

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Norway’s restless mountain called Mannen has started moving again, so much that geologists who are constantly monitoring it called for the evacuation Thursday night of those living under it. They fear the mountainside will crash down to the valley below.

The mountains where Mannen lies in Romsdal are scenic but can be dangerous as well. Portions of Mannen have been been threatening to crash down to the valley below. PHOTO: NVE

Mannen has set off drama for years, most recently last year when local residents were also evacuated. They were eventually allowed to move back when the mountain’s rumbling settled down, and the train line through the valley south of Andalsnes was reopened.

On Thursday night the state waterways and energy directorate NVE hiked the danger level for Mannen to the highest red zone. Heavy rains in recent days have made the mountainside less stable than ever.

“The rain has increased movement in the most active portion of the mountain,” Lars Harald Blikra of NVE told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “The movements by 10pm amounted to 42 millimeters in the past 24 hours, and that leads to the red alert.”

There are 11 people living at the foot of the mountain and they were told to leave. They’d had a respite on Monday, when the danger level was set at orange instead of red, and precipitation came as snow. When temperatures rose and the snow turned to rain, the mountain became more unstable.

Geologists and engineers planned to try bringing down around 180,000 cubic meters of the mountain themselves, in a controlled landslide of sorts to be set off by pumping water into cracks in the mountain that can loosen its most vulnerable parts. Mannen is covered with monitors and other equipment aimed at controlling it, including pumps that bring water up from a mountain lake to large troughs, from which hoses extend into the cracks.

“The goal is to loosen all or parts of the mountain that pose the greatest threat, so that it won’t pose such danger to local residents,” Blikra told NRK. Work was underway Thursday night and would continue indefinitely.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund