Landslide blamed on roadwork

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A landslide that destroyed six houses and three holiday homes in Namsos on Friday the 13th is believed to have been set off by road-building activity in the area. The ground gave way just after state road crews had done blasting work.

State officials themselves made the connection between the blasting work and the landslide at Kattmarka, just west of Namsos center. The landslide sent the homes and hytter tumbling down the hillside towards the sea, and also destroyed the beach known as Gullholmsstrand.

“There is a connection between the road work and the landslide,” acknowledged Knut Nauste, acting regional director of the state highway department (Statens vegvesen) for Central Norway. “We say that based on the timing of the landslide, and the way it occurred.”

Nauste said an external group would investigate whether the highway department and crews at the site had followed all guidelines for blasting work.

The blasting was carried out in connection with construction of a new pedestrian and cycling path through the area. Residents heard the explosives coming from higher up the hill, and shortly thereafter, the hillside literally slid out from under them.

Officials and residents alike call it a miracle that no one was killed or injured. Only seven persons were at home at the time, and all were airlifted to safety by rescue helicopters.

All told, 70 persons either lost their homes or were prevented from reaching them because of the debris and lack of access.

Reports over the weekend indicated it may be a long time before residents can return to the area. Crisis teams were offering emergency assistance and state aid was expected as well.