Three people missing after once-in-30-year rains cause floods and landslides in Switzerland

2 weeks ago 11

A rescue operation has been launched to find three people missing after a landslide in Switzerland, caused by the sort of rainfall seen once every 30 years, officials have said.

A woman was pulled out alive after being buried by the landslide in the Alpine valley of Misox in the canton of Graubunden, caused by massive thunderstorms and rainfall in the southeast of the country.

Rescuers searched all through Saturday with excavators and specially trained search dogs after the rockslide hit houses in the municipality of Lostallo.

A car is stuck in the mud at the Sorte village, community of Lostallo, Southern Switzerland, after a landslide, caused by the bad weather and heavy rain in the Misox valley, in Lostallo, Southern Switzerland, Saturday, June 22 2024. Massive thunderstorms and rainfall led to a flooding situation on Friday evening after a landslide in the Misox valley. Four people went missing on Saturday morning. Several dozen people had to be evacuated from their homes in the Misox and Calanca regions. (Samuel G

Image: A car is stuck in mud in the village of Sorte in Lostallo after a landslide, caused by heavy rain in the Misox valley. Pic: AP

Helicopters and drones have also been used in the search.

William Kloter, from the Swiss police, who is heading the rescue, said they are hoping to find the missing trio alive, who could have been in their homes when the flooding hit.

Almost five inches (12cm) of rain fell in the valley on Friday, with around half that amount coming down in just one hour, MeteoSchweiz, the government's office for weather and climate, said.

A spokesman for the agency said: "It was not the level of rain, but the concentration of rain in such a short period of time which caused the problems. This concentration of rain happens only once every 30 years."

Rivers burst their banks, leaving roads, fields and villages covered with rubble, earth and wood.

Three houses and three cars were swept away by water in the village of Sorte, Grisons police said.

Aerial view of the area affected by the landslide with the houses in the hamlet of Sorte engulfed by stones in Lostallo, Southern Switzerland, after a landslide, caused by the bad weather and heavy rain in the Misox valley, Saturday, June 22 2024. Massive thunderstorms and rainfall led to a flooding situation on Friday evening after a landslide in the Misox valley. Four people went missing on Saturday morning. Several dozen people had to be evacuated from their homes in the Misox and Calanca reg

Image: Sorte in Lostallo, Southern Switzerland. Pic: AP

Two police officers escaped from their vehicle which was submerged up to its roof.

Four people were initially reported missing, although a woman was later found under rubble and taken to hospital in nearby Lugano.

Aerial view of the area affected by the landslide with the houses in the hamlet of Sorte engulfed by stones in Lostallo, Southern Switzerland, after a landslide, caused by the bad weather and heavy rain in the Misox valley, Saturday, June 22 2024. Massive thunderstorms and rainfall led to a flooding situation on Friday evening after a landslide in the Misox valley. Four people went missing on Saturday morning. Several dozen people had to be evacuated from their homes in the Misox and Calanca regions. (Samuel Golay/Keystone via AP)

Image: Aerial view of the area affected by the landslide with the houses in the village of Sorte. Pic: AP

Police urged people not to travel to the region as many roads were closed. Five villages were without electricity.

More than 200 people have been moved out of the western canton of Valais since Friday after heavy rainfall caused flooding and mudslides.

The popular ski resort of Zermatt in Valais, near the famous Matterhorn mountain, has been cut off after heavy rains and melting snow caused the nearby Matter Vispa River to overflow.

An excavator removes stones from the bed of the Navizence river, which flows into the Rhone, in Chippis, canton Valais, Switzerland, Saturday June 22, 2024. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP)

Image: An excavator removes stones from the bed of the Navizence river in Chippis, canton Valais. Pic: AP

Dramatic videos showed the otherwise small river that flows through Zermatt turning into a muddy flash flood, partially submerging streets.

There are no rail services to and from the tourist destination after the Matterhorn-Gotthard Railway halted operations on Saturday morning but police said they hoped to reopen the routes in the evening.

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Emergency services in the canton of Valais were on high alert over the levels of the Rhone River, which reached its peak on Saturday.

Residents have been warned to keep out of the lower parts of their houses, including cellars, and not to get close to swelling rivers or park on bridges.

People were also advised against filming or photographing the floods due to safety reasons.

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

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

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