On the day of the disaster, the area had endured a heavy rainfall. The sheer amount of rain that fell on the Rossberg, a mountain near the village, exacerbated existing faults in the landscape and just before five o'clock in the afternoon, the landslide began. Beneath the mountain the villagers looked on in surprised wonder, little suspecting the imminent danger that the Rossberg posed to their lives.
In fact, 120 million tonnes of debris slid straight down into the village and buried Goldau beneath its weight. The landslide caused enormous damage to surrounding villages and even triggered a massive wave in Lake Lauerz, which only added to the devastation; 457 people were killed and Goldau disappeared beneath debris that was more than fifty feet high.
Rather than declare the disaster a sign from God, geologists began to look for a natural explanation for the landslide and as the local people tried to make sense of the tragedy that had struck them, scientists came to Switzerland. Here they made studies of the landscape and began to piece together the events that had caused such devastation and slowly, surely, Goldau tried to recover.