A huge mass of rock slid down a mountainside above a Swiss village that was evacuated last month, stopping just short of the settlement, which remained unscathed, relieved local officials said Friday.
Some 67 million cubic feet of rock had been deemed at risk of breaking away — and potentially of destroying the village of Brienz, in the southeastern Graubuenden region of Switzerland.
Brienz was evacuated on May 12 after geologists warned that the Alpine rock looming over the village could break loose. In recent days, local officials said rock movements on the slope were accelerating.
“We can say that today is one of the best days since the evacuation,” said Daniel Albertin, the head of the local council. “The wait for the mountain was long. But now the mountain has come down as we envisioned, and … a great deal has come down, but nothing is damaged in the village and no inhabitants were harmed.”
However, officials couldn’t yet say when they might be able to end the evacuation — although they said the chances of a permanent return are very high.
The rockslide came a bit over a week after residents of Brienz were allowed to make their first visits back to the village since the evacuation to retrieve essential items from their houses. Only two people per household were allowed in for 90-minute visits.
Officials said at the time of the evacuation that residents would be able to return from time to time, depending on the risk level, but not stay overnight. Located at an altitude of about 3,800 feet, the village has under 100 residents.