Floods, Landslides Cause Heavy Damage in Switzerland, Italy

October 16, 2000

The week-long rains which caused heavy damages in Southern England have subsided there, but new storms over the weekend in the Alps caused swollen rivers to overflow and produced a number of mudslides destroying buildings and cutting transport links.

The BBC reported that about 10 buildings in the Swiss town of Gondo had been swept away. 13 people were reported missing, and presumed lost, while authorities evacuated the remaining 1500 residents by helicopter.

In the Canton of Valais officials evacuated other villagers, and reported that the Simplon pass between the Swiss town of Brig and Northern Italy was closed to all traffic. The Rhone river was reported to be at a higher level than anyone in the town remembers.

Farther south on the other side of the border in Italy’s scenic Val D’Aosta, bridges and roads were swept away by the fast moving flood waters, virtually isolating the region. Italian authorities have asked for aid from French Alpine emergency services to cope with the disaster.

Rising floodwaters in Italy and France threaten more damage as both the Rhone and the Po are reported to be at their highest levels in years. Although the skies cleared briefly on Sunday, the forecast for the week is not good, as more heavy rain is predicted throughout most of Europe.

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