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Switzerland: Floods cause deadly landslide

June 23, 2024

Rescuers were looking for two missing people following a deadly landslide in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. Severe storms and flooding have also prompted evacuation of hundreds in the southwestern canton of Valais.

Excavators remove stones from the bed of the Navizence river
Heavy rainfall in southeastern Switzerland caused a landslide SaturdayImage: Jean-Christophe Bott/keystone/dpa/picture alliance

One person was dead in Switzerland on Sunday after severe storms hit the south of the country, causing flooding and a landslide.

Three people initially went missing in the landslide, but police later announced that the body of one was found. The search for the other two remained ongoing.

Dozens of people were evacuated due to a landslide in the Mesocco and Calanca valleys in the southeastern canton of Graubünden.

The houses of those missing were destroyed in the landslide in Mesocco. Streets in the village were flooded, according to cantonal police.

Another woman had been reported missing but was found on Saturday morning.

A stretch of some 200 meters on the A13 highway to Italy was destroyed.

Swiss President Viola Amherd said she was shocked by the scale of the damage.

“My thoughts are with those affected. I thank the emergency personnel for their tireless efforts in this difficult situation,” Amherd said on X.

Trains resume in Zermatt, after ski town was briefly cut off by floodwaters

Trains began running in the town of Zermatt in the southwestern canton of Valais after rail traffic had been suspended for over 24 hours. 

Schools had also been closed in the town.

Zermatt is located near Matterhorn, a popular tourist destination.

Both the railway line and the road into the town had been blocked temporarily due to flooding.

The Vispa river, a headstream of the Rhone that runs through the canton, broke its banks. Authorities declared a state of emergency for the Rhone and several of its tributaries.

Swiss news agency SDA cited Marie-Claude Noth-Ecoeur, the head of the Valais branch of the civil protection service, as saying that 230 people were forced to leave their homes by late on Friday.

Over 200 firefighters and 50 civil protection workers were involved in rescue activities, she said.

Flooded town in Valais, Switzerland
Swiss authorities declared an emergency for the Rhone and associated waterways after rivers burst their banks, leading to heavy flooding in the Valais cantonImage: Jean-Christophe Bott/KEYSTONE/dpa/picture alliance

sdi/rm (dpa, AFP)