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Up to 14 People Missing after Landslide in Swiss Alps | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A handout photo released on August 24 by the Police Cantonale des Grisons shows a partial view of the landslide in the Swiss village of Bondo on August 23.//AFP

Up to 14 people, including Germans, Austrians and Swiss, were still missing and several villages were evacuated after a landslide in southeast Switzerland, police said on Thursday.

Authorities had evacuated around 100 people from the village of Bondo, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Milan, and airlifted hikers from nearby huts in the eastern canton of the Grisons after rocks and mud hit the area on Wednesday.

Police said they were unable to reach eight people in the area, six of whom had been reported missing by relatives, despite intensified searches by teams including an army helicopter outfitted with thermal sensing technology as well as rescue dogs.

At a news conference on Thursday, police officials added that a separate group of six people may also be missing, though it was unclear from family members who made the report at about 1130 GMT whether these individuals were in the area where the landslide occurred or if they were somewhere else.

An alarm system went off on Wednesday in time to allow for evacuation of about 100 local residents.

Images showed a broad swathe of farmland covered in a grey, moving mass, with mud partially engulfing some buildings. Police said 12 farm buildings, including barns and stables, had been destroyed by the flow of debris.

Markus Walzer, a Graubuenden police spokesman, told The Associated Press that the alarm system was put in place after a similar mudslide in the region five years ago. He said the weather in the region had been good in recent days, and the cause of the mudslide was not immediately known.

It wasn’t immediately clear when residents would be able to return to their homes.

Austria’s Foreign Ministry said two Austrians were among the missing.

The landslide’s force registered a magnitude of 3 on the Richter Scale, Mittner said, equivalent to a small earthquake that can be felt by people and may shake indoor objects.

“You can imagine just what a mass had to come down to cause an earthquake scenario,” he said.
Bondo will remain closed until 0800 GMT on Friday, Mittner said. Additional landslides are possible. About 120 rescue workers are on the scene.