Swiss landslide forces dramatic helicopter rescue week after disaster

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 01, 2017 1:18 AM

ZURICH (Reuters) - A rock fall hit a remote valley in eastern Switzerland where eight hikers were buried by a landslide last week, trapping two people who had to be rescued by helicopter and destroying buildings.

One road was covered with mud as the landslide late on Thursday filled a basin near the town of Bondo that had previously been cleared of debris by workers following the Aug. 23 slide.

Nobody was believed to have been hurt, police said on Friday, but several hotel guests and residents had to be evacuated after the landslide, which came as steady rain saturated unstable mud and rocks on the flanks of the 3,369-metre (11,053 ft) Piz Cengalo mountain.

Several buildings in the towns of Bondo and Sottoponte were destroyed. Houses in the town of Spino were also damaged.

"The landslide was preceded by hefty thunder and lightning and multiple rock falls on Piz Cengalo," Grisons cantonal police said, adding a helicopter had to airlift two people from buildings where they had been trapped.

About 50 emergency personnel were on the scene to help.

The hikers who died in last week's slide came from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Their names have not been released and the search for their bodies has been abandoned, as authorities believe they are buried beneath millions of tonnes of rock and mud.

(Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Nick Macfie)