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Swiss authorities say 1999 was "year of solidarity"

Deadly avalanches in the Swiss Alps and severe flooding not only caused death and destruction in the past 12 months, but also led to an unprecedented show of solidarity and voluntary reconstruction work by thousands of Swiss.

This content was published on December 24, 1999 - 10:06

Deadly avalanches in the Swiss Alps and severe flooding not only caused death and destruction in the past 12 months, but also led to an unprecedented show of solidarity and voluntary reconstruction work by thousands of Swiss, the authorities said on Friday.

The Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports, which coordinated many emergency operations, said 1999 saw civil protection units serve a record of 223,000 days to help victims of floods and avalanches, which killed 17 people and caused hundreds of millions of Swiss francs in damage.

In the worst winter since 1951, Switzerland saw dozens of avalanches in the past winter. The worst one hit Evolène in canton Valais, where 12 people were killed as the snow masses tore a path of destruction through parts of the Alpine village.

Civil protection units, many of them doing voluntary service, spent the following months clearing debris, rebuilding damaged or destroyed housing and repairing roads in the cantons worst affected by seemingly endless severe winter weather.

When the snow began to melt and river banks burst – or threatened to burst – in May, it was a question of evacuating people from flooded homes, sandbagging threatened areas and building bridges and high-level walkways.

More regulars and volunteers were asked for during the summer months, when Switzerland saw a major influx of Kosovar refugees fleeing the Serb crackdown against ethnic Albanians in the Balkans. Much of the aid work then focussed on emergency refugee shelters.

From staff and wire reports.

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI swissinfo.ch certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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