Two-and-a-half months after a devastating landslide displaced hundreds of people from the Swiss village of Bondo, the “red zone” near the epicentre has been lifted. Almost all inhabitants can move back home.
A total of 147 people were evacuated from Bondo and the nearby hamlets of Spino and Sottoponte following the landslide on August 23 – one of the largest in Swiss history, which resulted in the disappearance of eight hikers who are presumed dead.
On Saturday, a further 46 residents will be able to return home, the municipality of Bregaglia announced on Fridayexternal link. They had been living in temporary accommodation, unable to return because of material damage and the risks of further falling debris.
Only five of the 147 evacuees must now remain away. Seven buildings are still out of bounds, the municipality said, affecting those five residents and users of a few holiday apartments.
Trail of destruction
The landslide sent about four million cubic metres of material crashing down the mountain. Buildings were damaged and television images showed a trail of destruction left by a river of mud and stone.
Geologists believe the landslide was caused by a combination of thawing permafrost and water pressure dislodging rocks.
The authorities were alerted by an automatic alarm system that had been set up in the region after a massive landslide in 2012 down Piz Cengalo, also the source of the rocks on August 23.
Some 1.5 million cubic metres of rock remain unstable. Experts say there is no acute danger of a major rockfall in the immediate future, but they say the likelihood is high that another landslide will occur at some point.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/ts