Dozens caught up in road collapse

A four hundred metre stretch of a major road in western Sweden collapsed in a landslide on Wednesday evening, taking with it cars carrying 28 people.

The collapse of the E6 north of Uddevalla, near Gothenburg, happened just after 7pm on Wednesday. Rescuers say the landslide was caused by recent heavy downpours in the region.

Eight people needed hospital treatment following the incident, but none of these were seriously injured. A spokesman for the emergency services was quoted by Svenska Dagbladet as saying that it was “an absolute miracle” that everyone was rescued.

Emergency services called off their search late on Wednesday evening, after rescuing all those caught up in the landslide.

“We have carried out a search with rescue dogs in the collapse area, but they have fortunately not found anything,” said emergency service chief Ulf Gustavsson late on Wednesday. Emergency services resumed their work at the site at first light.

The incident is expected to cause traffic chaos in the area, with the 15,000 vehicles that usually use the road being sent on 50-60 kilometre diversions via Bäckefors and Dals-Ed.

“There are going to be long lines of traffic, because we are talking about a lot of vehicles and much smaller roads,” said Tomas Andersson from the Swedish National Road Administration.

The landslide also affected the nearby Bohusbanan railway, with the railway embankment collapsing and a 300 metre section of track falling into the Taske River. The railway connects Gothenburg to Strömstad. Railoway operator SJ expects the line to be closed for a long time.

“There is a total stop on the Bohusbana from Uddevalla northbound to Strömstad and for freight traffic to Lysekil,” said Kerstin Olsson, spokeswoman for railway infrastructure company Banverket.

“The track is torn to pieces and the electricity connection is broken. The track lost electricity just after 7pm, just minutes after the last train had passed that spot,” she added.

With large chunks of road and railway falling into the Taske River, police had been worried that nearby settlements could be flooded. Police broke into a nearby house to rescue valuables, but the feared flooding never happened.

The road collapse took with it fibre optic cables into the river, causing 5,000 local Telia Sonera telephone subscribers to be cut off. This also caused trouble in the mobile network, something which caused problems for rescuers.