Residents of a tiny mountain community in the eastern canton of Graubunden, Switzerland, have been told to leave because officials fear it may be buried by a collapsing hillside.
On Thursday, a heavy layer of fog blanketed the mountainside above the settlement of Brienz, whose vegetation has been replaced by a mud and rock slope.
Farm employees were observed putting cows into a truck and transporting it away from the practically abandoned settlement. Some places were roped off, and yellow caution signs in five languages stated, 'Attention rockfall.'
The centuries-old town, located south-west of Davos at an elevation of around 1,158 meters (3,800 feet), spans German and Romansch-speaking areas of the eastern Graubünden region. It has less than 100 inhabitants.
According to local officials, the mountain and its rocks have been shifting since the last Ice Age. However, recent assessments revealed a strong acceleration across a vast region, and 'up to two million cubic meters of rock debris will fall or slide in the next seven to 24 days,' according to authorities.
'The rock advances at a rate of up to 36 meters (39 yards) every year,' said Christian Gartmann, a member of Albula's crisis management board, which includes Brienz. 'We anticipate it falling towards the community in the next days or weeks.'
'This is a massive undertaking for the entire community,' he added.
According to Swiss officials, climate change is increasing the danger of natural disasters in Switzerland, including greater erosion owing to higher temperatures.