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House collapse

July 19, 2009

A landslide in eastern Germany that may have killed three people has been declared a disaster area. Rescue teams haven't been able to conduct a proper search as more shoreline could slip.

The collapse in Nechterstedt
One house fell completely into the lake; another split in halfImage: dpa

A stretch of the shoreline on a lake in the village of Nachterstedt, located in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, simply gave way early on Saturday, causing one home and part of an adjacent apartment building to collapse and fall into the water.

Three people are missing, including a married couple and another man, who are thought to have been buried by the slide in their sleep.

The premier of Saxony-Anhalt, Wolfgang Boehmer declared the incident a disaster area and said the military would help with the rescue efforts. About 40 people have been evacuated.

Fear of further landslides hampering rescue

Dangerous conditions, including the threat of further landslides, kept rescue workers from conducting a proper search.

"The entire situation is very unstable and further collapses are possible at any time," police spokeswoman Bettina Moosbauer said Sunday.

The three missing people lived in a semi-detached duplex house, which was situated over 100 meters from the shoreline. After the collapse, the house disappeared completely under the surface of the lake.

The collapsed land
Image: AP

Half of an adjacent apartment building also collapsed, but reports say nobody was inside at the time.

Heat detectors on helicopters have not located any bodies.

Cause for slip unknown

Officials said the area had received some rain, but added that this could not have caused such a violent landslide.

They said it was more likely that past mining had made the land unstable. An opencast coalmine, which had been in operation during communist times, was closed in 1991.

The former mine was subsequently turned into Lake Concordia, a 350-hectare recreation area that had become a popular spot for swimming, diving and boating.

After Saturday's incident, the lake was closed to the public. Officials have not commented on when it will be reopened.

Editor: Trinity Hartman