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Saturday, May 18, 2024

‘Red alert’ extended, with more landslides expected

State meteorologists in Norway have extended their “red alert” tied to the extreme weather that’s been ravaging central and southern parts of the country. “We’re still expecting lots of rain,” they wrote, and that can set off more landslides and flooding.

Landslides like these in Romsdal started even before the extreme weather system known as “Hans” descended on Norway during the weekend. PHOTO: Luftforsvaret/Hovedredningssentralen

On Tuesday afternoon another landslide set off by torrential rain crashed through a residential neighbourhood in Bagn in Valdres, located on the main E16 highway connecting Oslo and Bergen. One house was swept off its foundation, according to the local newspaper Avisa Valdres, while aerial photos showed other damage to homes in the path of all the mud and uprooted trees.

Damage estimates, meanwhile, are already estimated to exceed NOK 200 million, according to insurance firm Gjensidige, which had received more than 500 individual claims by Tuesday morning. “It’s still early, and the final damage toll can be much higher,” Line Marcelius of Gjensidige told news bureau NTB.

Most of the damage claims are coming from home- and business owners, after the extreme weather system known as “Hans” continued to literally storm through areas from south of Oslo and northwards through Hadeland, Romerike, Valdres, Hallingdal and beyond to Trøndelag. Scores of residents of Gran, Østre Toten, Søndre Land, Nordre Land, Nord-Aurdal and Vang have been evacuated because of flooding and, most recently, sudden landslides in the middle of the night.

An asylum center at Vang in Valdres was also evacuated during the night after a nearby river overran its banks and surround the building. Residents, mostly from Ukraine, were moved to a hotel in Fagernes. Meteorologists told NTB that the amount of rain pouring down on Vang in the preceding 24 hours was more than what’s normally registered during the entire month of August.

Residents of several homes in Lillestrøm, just northeast of Oslo, were also evacuated after flooding and more than 15 roads were closed in the large county of Innlandet. Police were urging residents against driving because of ongoing threats of more flooding and landslides. “Out of consideration to public security, it’s important to have the least amount of vehicles on the roads as possible,” Aud Risen, transport chief for the country of Innlandet, told NTB.

A new slide closed Highway 50 at Holsfjorden in the valley of Hallingdal on Tuesday, following an earlier slide near Fagernes onto the main E16 highway connecting Eastern and Western Norway.

All trains on the Bergensbanen, Dovrebanen, Rørosbanen and Raumabanen lines continued to stand still on Tuesday, along with the important commuter line between Oslo and Gjøvik (Gjøvikbanen) and all trains running to and through Oslo’s main airport, OSL Gardermoen.

Flights were landing and taking off as usual, but travelers departing from OSL faced challenges getting to the airport on time, or at all. Bus transport was expanded to and from the airport, but travelers reported “chaotic” conditions and long delays. Arriving passengers faced waiting for hours to get transport into Oslo or other destinations.

NewsinEnglish.no/Nina Berglund

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