Locals in Swiss town told to evacuate as major landslide threatens

Locals in Swiss town told to evacuate as major landslide threatens

Authorities in the Swiss town of Brienz / Brinzauls in Canton Graubünden have told local residents to prepare for an imminent evacuation. The local council (Gemeinde) said that a major landslide is expected to occur in 2023 and that locals need to get to safety by the end of the year.

Update: Local authorities have told all residents to evacuate the village by 6pm on May 12. From that date, no resident is able to stay overnight, and will only be allowed back during the day if the danger level permits. You can read about all the latest developments here.

Residents of Brienz / Brinzauls told to evacuate by end of year

In their latest news bulletin, reported in 20 Minuten, the Albula / Alvara council has informed the entire population of Brienz / Brinzauls that they will have to leave their homes by the end of 2023. The village in the Swiss mountains, home to 72 permanent residents, will have to pack up their things and leave.

Authorities explained that the entire town is threatened by a huge landslide, due to happen at any time this year. The town of Brienz / Brinzauls has been threatened by landslides for around 100 years, to the point that rockslides from the local mountain have necessitated the installation of a special traffic light for drivers to help them avoid falling rocks.

The evacuation and resettlement campaign will be the largest in Swiss history, with SRF reporting that when the landslide comes, around 300 apartments will likely be destroyed. Questions also remain regarding local public transport, with both the Glacier Express and regular Rheatian Railway services between Chur and St. Moritz using a rail line just south of the town.

Brienz / Brinzauls to face a huge landslide in 2023, say Swiss authorities

According to the Albula / Alvra website, the ground that Brienz / Brinzauls is built on is made up of loose ground on top of running water. As a result, the ground - and indeed the town - has been slowly moving down the hillside over the past 100 years at a rate of a few centimetres per year.

In the last 20 years, however, the speed of this slide has increased to around a metre a year. More recently, part of the slope above Brienz was recorded moving down the hillside at a stunning 32 metres per year - or between eight and nine centimetres a day.

Experts told that the landslide is most likely to occur after the start of summer and that they will be able to inform residents of the danger well ahead of time. Thanks to the evacuation order, a spokesperson said that “enough time” remains to evacuate the village in an orderly fashion.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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