A Significant Rock Mass Slides Down Mountain, Almost Reaching Evacuated Swiss Hamlet

by Chloe Baker
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Swiss Village Rockslide

A substantial quantity of rock recently slid down a mountainside situated above an evacuated Swiss hamlet, coming precariously close to the settlement, officials announced on Friday.

The village of Brienz, located in Switzerland’s southeastern Graubuenden region, was cleared on May 12 in response to geological experts’ warnings that the massive Alpine rock overhanging the village was prone to detachment. Local officials noted that the rock’s movements on the slope had accelerated over the past few days.

Between 11 p.m. and midnight on Thursday, a large part of the rock mass moved downhill towards Brienz, according to the local council. There were no signs of any damage to the village as the rockslide halted just short of reaching it, creating a deposit several meters high near the school building.

The exact quantity of the at-risk 1.9 million cubic meters (67 million cubic feet) of rock that ultimately dislodged remains unclear. However, the local council suggests that it seems to represent a significant proportion of the total.

In the aftermath of the rockslide, authorities raised the alert level as a preventative measure, resulting in the closure of some local roads, a railway line, and the precautionary evacuation of two houses in the adjacent village of Surava.

This rockslide event occurred just over a week after Brienz residents were permitted their first return visits to the village since the evacuation to collect essential belongings from their homes. The rules allowed only two people from each household to enter for 90-minute periods.

When the evacuation was first implemented, officials indicated that the residents’ ability to return occasionally would be contingent on the assessed risk level, although overnight stays would not be permitted.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Swiss Village Rockslide

What caused the evacuation of the Swiss village of Brienz?

The evacuation of the Swiss village of Brienz was prompted by the risk of a large rock mass sliding down the mountainside above the village. Geology experts warned that the Alpine rock was unstable and could break loose, posing a danger to the settlement.

Did the rockslide cause any damage to the village?

Fortunately, there was no evidence of damage to the village of Brienz. The rockslide stopped just short of reaching the settlement, leaving a deposit of rocks in front of the school building. The authorities reported no harm to the village itself.

How much of the at-risk rock actually came loose?

The exact quantity of the rock that came loose from the 1.9 million cubic meters (67 million cubic feet) at risk is not immediately clear. However, local officials stated that it appeared to be a substantial portion of the material, indicating a significant movement of the rock mass.

What safety precautions were taken after the rockslide?

As a precautionary measure, the authorities raised the alert level and implemented safety precautions. Some local roads and a railway line were closed, and two houses in the neighboring village of Surava were evacuated. These measures were taken to ensure the safety of the residents and to prevent any potential harm caused by further rock movements.

Can the residents return to their homes after the evacuation?

Residents of Brienz were allowed to make brief visits to retrieve essential items from their homes. However, overnight stays were not permitted. The frequency of their visits depended on the assessed risk level. Authorities emphasized that the safety of the residents remained a priority.

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