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Swiss Village of Brienz Evacuated Over Risk of Imminent Rockslide

Residents of a tiny Swiss village have all been evacuated because of the risk of an imminent rockslide. 

Brienz’s fewer than 100 villagers were given just 48 hours to pack what they could and abandon their homes.

Even the dairy cows were loaded up for departure after geologists warned a rockfall was imminent.

Two million cubic metres of rock is coming loose from the mountain above, and a rockslide could obliterate the village.

The development has raised questions about the safety of some mountain communities, as global warming changes the alpine environment.

Brienz, in the eastern canton of Graubünden, is now empty. 

The village has been judged a geological risk for some time and is built on land that is subsiding down towards the valley, causing the church spire to lean and large cracks to appear in buildings.

As the minutes ticked towards the deadline to leave, even Brienz’s dairy cows were being taken to safety.

The residents, some young, some old, families, farmers and professional couples, had two days to abandon their homes.

They were asked earlier this week to evacuate the village by Friday evening.

Switzerland’s Alpine regions are especially sensitive to global warming – as the permafrost high in the mountains begins to thaw, the rock becomes more unstable.

This particular mountain has always been unstable, but recently the rock has been shifting faster and faster.

Days of heavy rain could bring two million cubic metres of loosened rock crashing down the mountainside onto the village, scientists warned.

Now the villagers must wait, in temporary accommodation, for the rock to fall – and hope it misses their homes.

Source: BBC



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