Swiss village is swept away in Alpine landslide

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The Independent Online

Thirteen people are missing and feared dead after a landslide swept away homes in a village in the southern Swiss Alps, police said.

Thirteen people are missing and feared dead after a landslide swept away homes in a village in the southern Swiss Alps, police said.

The slide of mud and rock that hit Gondo, on the Italian border, on Saturday morning followed days of heavy rain, which has caused flooding across this southern Swiss region and northwest Italy.

Police said the slide destroyed about one-third of Gondo, a village of 200 inhabitants. The Swiss President Adolf Ogi expressed his "consternation". "Once again, we must recognise how powerful the forces of nature can be," he said in a statement.

An official said on Saturday at least three people died in the slide. But Bernard Geiger, chief of Valais canton police, said yesterday 13 were missing, though no bodies had been recovered.

The villagers were evacuated to Simplon village and to Brig, on the other side of the mountain. Shortly afterwards, rescuers were ordered to leave the village because of the danger of further slides. Rescue work finally resumed yesterday afternoon.

Three more people were missing after a smaller landslide yesterday near the Swiss village of Stalden.

The Simplon rail tunnel, on the main line between Milan and the Swiss capital, Bern, remained closed due to flooding.

In northwest Italy, flooding prompted authorities to evacuate 3,000 people. A seven-year-old girl was killed, swept away when the Stura river overflowed near a Gypsy camp outside Turin, police said.

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