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World

New Mudslide Hits Swiss Alpine Village; 8 Remain Missing

Video from Bondo showed images of mud, rocks and debris tumbling down from a mountainside at a walking pace into the village along the Italian border

Switzerland Mudslide, photo: KEYSTONE/Gian Ehrenzeller
4 weeks ago

GENEVA – A new mudslide on Friday plowed into houses in the same Swiss Alpine village that was cleaning up from a devastating landslide two days ago that left eight people missing.

Video from Bondo showed images of mud, rocks and debris tumbling down from a mountainside at a walking pace into the village along the Italian border.

At least two or three houses were hit by the new mudslide, Michael Kirthner, director of the Bregaglia regional tourism authority, said by telephone from Bondo.

The regional Graubuenden police said the new mudslide hit areas that were already sealed off for safety reasons following a more powerful landslide on Wednesday. The zone is littered with rocks and caking mud,

Police said no one was hurt Friday. Authorities had earlier allowed some residents to return home, partially lifting an evacuation order.

Four Germans, two Austrians and two Swiss citizens remained missing after the first landslide, said police spokeswoman Chiarella Piana. They had set off separately or in pairs and were believed to have been hiking in the area of the mudslide.

“The more time wears on, the harder the search becomes,” Piana said, adding that the search would continue until the missing were found or authorities deemed it was virtually certain they could not be located.

Police have sealed off airspace for a five-kilometer (three-mile) radius until Monday to give priority access to rescuers. Search teams with dogs fanned out again Friday and excavators picked through the rubble in the village center.

In the area hit by the land slide, homes were divided into color-coded red, orange and green zones, Piana said. Residents in the green areas were allowed to return home while those in the red zone could only briefly re-enter their homes to gather personal belongings.

Authorities say about 4 million cubic meters (140 million cubic feet) of rocks and mud rolled through the village on Wednesday, prompting the immediate evacuation of about 100 residents.

JAMEY KEATEN

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