Canton Valais: Floods ease after weekend disaster

Two people are missing after the mudslide at Neubruck-Stalden Keystone

Floodwaters which caused a disaster in the Swiss canton of Valais over the past two days appeared to be easing on Monday. A woman's body was found and 15 other people are still missing, presumed dead.

This content was published on October 16, 2000 - 10:48

A cantonal police spokesman said the woman was found in a car which had been washed away by floodwaters near Martigny on the road leading to the Great St-Bernard pass.

Rescue work resumed in the devastated mountain village of Gondo, close to the Italian border, where 13 people are still missing after Saturday's mudslide.

No bodies have yet been found, but a police spokesman said they were unlikely to have survived. The search was called off on Sunday because of the danger of further mudslides.

Two other people were missing at Neubrück-Stalden near Visp after a mudslide destroyed four houses on Sunday.

The Rhone, which runs through the valley's biggest towns, was reported to be dropping in level on Monday. It has fallen by up to a metre in one of the worst affected towns, Brig.

The persistent rains, which caused widespread flooding and mudslides, have given way to snow at higher levels, and the skies in much of the canton are relatively clear, reported German-language Swiss radio.

Road and rail links in to canton Valais were cut for much of Sunday, but some services were being restored on Monday. In several parts of the canton, telephone links were still cut.

Thousands of people were evacuated from low-lying areas as a precautionary measure as the Rhone burst its banks in some parts of the canton.

More rain has fallen in the past few days than is normal for the entire month of October, officials said.

Two cabinet members, the president, Adolf Ogi, and the economics minister, Pascal Couchepin, went to the Gondo area to meet evacuated residents on Sunday.

Other parts of Switzerland have also been hit by heavy rains. The town of Locarno, in canton Ticino is partly under water after Lake Maggiore burst its banks.

The lake has surpassed its record height, recorded in 1993. Local officials said it was expected to rise further.

The Piazza Grande, in the centre of Locarno, is under water. Firefighters have been placed on a state of alert.

High waters were also reported in parts of the Bernese Oberland.

swissinfo with agencies

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