31 December 2020

An update on the Gjerdrum landslide in Norway

Posted by Dave Petley

An update on the Gjerdrum landslide in Norway

Overnight, the emergency operations at the site of the Gjerdrum landslide in Norway have continued.  The number of people unaccounted for has reduced to ten now, but I note a change in the tone of the reporting within Norway, with an increased emphasis on this event being a tragedy.  The likelihood that the missing people are away from the site and out of contact is reducing, but hopefully it is not yet zero.  Unfortunately, the Norwegian police have said that they are reasonably sure that there are people in the landslide area.  The weather (in particular the cold, but also the snowy conditions) and the instability of the site are hindering the rescue effort.

The latest update on the Gjerdrum landslide is in a new post

A total of eight additional homes have now collapsed into the landslide, illustrating the continued instability of the area. Some of the buildings were multiple occupation units; in total it is reported that 31 homes have been lost. About 1,000 people have now been evacuated.

An impression of the scale of this landslide can be gained from this image, posted by VG:-

The Gjerdrum landslide

View from afar of the Gjerdrum landslide in Norway, with a Sea King helicopter for scale. Image posted by vg.no

During the night, a dog and handler were lowered onto the landslide site from a Sea King helicopter.  This was an extremely brave act, intended to search the partially collapsed houses that might have a space in which someone had survived.  Unfortunately the search proved to be fruitless.

The one bright spot is that a dog, a dalmatian named Zajka, was rescued yesterday.  This dog belongs to a family that successfully evacuated the site.  The dog is injured but is expected to survive, and will be reunited with its family.

Zajka, rescued from the Gjerdrum landslide

Zajka, a ten years old dalmatian rescued from the Gjerdrum landslide overnight

Support at the site is being provided by NVE, who have a statement online about the landslide, and the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI).  The combined knowledge of these two organisations is tremendous.  We can be confident that the operations are in the best possible hands.

There is a map online now showing the approximate extent of the landslide itself:-

Open Street Map depiction of the margins of the Gjerdrum landslide

Open Street Map depiction of the margins of the Gjerdrum landslide


I will try to provide updates today as they become available.  In the meantime, many thanks to all those who have commented and helped.  As usual, these events are best understood as a collective effort.

Update – 31 December 17:00 UT

The headline is that 10 people remain missing; it seems increasingly likely that they were present when the landslide occurred. A search team, including a dog, was airlifted onto the landslide this afternoon, but were unable to recover any survivors or locate any victims.  The police are using mobile phone tracking, as well as drones, to try to locate those who are missing.

Meanwhile, new ground cracks have developed away from the existing landslide.  As a result 46 more people have been evacuated, a road has been closed and the slope is being monitored.

The identities of those missing have not been formally released, but Norwegian media have speculated that it includes a three person family including a small child; a teenage girl and one of her parents; and a woman in her 50s and her son in his 20s.

The latest update on the Gjerdrum landslide is in a new post