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Swiss authorities stop search for eight missing in Alpine landslide

Swiss police say they are abandoning their search for eight people, including four Germans, missing since a landslide on Wednesday. More than 100 rescuers were involved in the search.

Police in the Swiss canton of Graubunden said on Saturday that they had given up hope of finding eight people who remain missing after a landslide in the Alps near the Italian border.

"We have tried everything possible to find the missing people," police spokeswoman Sandra Scianguetta told the DPA news agency. "We have now decided that the search [...] will be abandoned."

Four Germans, two Austrians and two Swiss have been missing without trace since Wednesday's landslide on the 3369-meter (11,053-foot) Piz Cengalo, a mountain that has seen several rock falls in recent years.

Some 4 million cubic meters (140 million cubic feet) of rubble are estimated to have been dislodged in Wednesday's incident, with several villages on the Italian border suffering damage.

A second mudslide on Friday fell into the Val Bondasca and the village of Bondo, but no injuries or damage was reported. Residents who had returned home to Bondo after the first landslide were temporarily evacuated, police said in a statement.

Landslide in the village of Bondo (Getty Images/AFP/M. Medina)

A number of buildings in Bondo were damaged

Endangered region

More than 100 rescuers had searched the valley for traces of the missing people, to no avail. Another group of six feared missing in the first landslide was found safe on Thursday across the border in Italy, police said.

Villages in the region were equipped with an automatic warning system after a major rock fall in December 2011. No one was hurt, but a main hiking route was blocked and has been sealed off since then.

Experts say climate change could be playing a role in recent rock falls, with the landmass possibly destabilized by the melting of permafrost and a nearby glacier.

tj/rc (dpa, AFP)

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