TWENTY-SIX people were reportedly missing in Norway after a major landslide smashed into a village in the early hours of this morning.
Several houses were swept away in the village of Ask during the huge rockfall, which was suddenly unleashed while people slept.
At least eight buildings and structures in the town, which is home to 5,000 people, have reportedly collapsed as police desperately search for survivors.
Rescue operations manager Roger Petersen told broadcaster NRK that 26 people have not been accounted for.
He said: “Police are designating this as a disaster… the situation is serious.”
In the meantime 500 residents have been evacutated, with more being told to live their homes — amid fears of a further catastrophic landslide.
Some 40 ambulances, volunteers from the Red Cross and the army have been dispatched to the disaster site, which is 15 miles from the capital Oslo.
We are considering whether we need to expand the area that needs to be evacuated.
Mayor Anders Østensen
Norwegian police said on Twitter: “Several homes have been taken by the landslide.
“Emergency services, with assistance from the Norwegian civil defence and the military, are in the process of evacuating.”
Norwegian media said nine injured, though none were in critical condition.
Mayor Anders Østensen said: “We must know if everyone has been evacuated.
“We must ensure that they have been taken care of. We have received many, and there is a big difference in how affected they are.
“Some were rescued by helicopter, others were notified at their doorstep.
“We are considering whether we need to expand the area that needs to be evacuated.
“When daylight comes, we will get a better overview.”
Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg offered her sympathies in a social media post, saying: “It hurts to see how the forces of nature have ravaged the area of Gjerdrum.
“My thoughts go to everyone affected by the landslide.”
The area where Ask is located is known for having a lot of so-called quick clay, a form of clay that can change from solid to liquid form.
There have been previous landslides reported in the area.