GENEVA – The effects of climate change are partially to blame for a mudslide through a southeastern village that left eight people missing after a massive chunk of rock broke off an Alpine mountainside, Switzerland’s environmental protection office said Monday.
Federal Office for the Environment director Marc Chardonnens said by telephone that experts were looking into exact causes for the break-off of rock face that tumbled in a gooey sludge into the village of Bondo last week, including possible tectonic and geological factors as well as climatic ones.
Chardonnens said Switzerland must do more to brace for the effects of climate change, citing the “weakening of the permafrost” atop many Alpine peaks as an example.
His office said that the Alpine country has experienced an average temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius since record-keeping began in 1864, more than twice the world average of 0.9 degrees.
It said climate change effects include “urban heat islands” in Swiss cities, localized water shortages, and the instability of mountain flanks like the one that cracked and triggered Wednesday’s mudslide in Bondo.
Authorities on Saturday suspended the search for the eight missing.