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First flood and mudslide victims buried

Mourners gather outside the funeral service in Simplon-Dorf of a flood victim

(Keystone)

Families and friends of the victims of last weekend's floods and mudslides in the Swiss canton of Valais have begun burying their loved ones. Four people were buried in various ceremonies.

A 33-year-old man was buried on Saturday in the village of Simplon-Dorf, while the 70-year-old woman, who was found last weekend in Neubrück, has been buried in Stalden.

Funeral services were held on Friday in the Valley of Goms for a 43-year-old woman who was killed in Gondo, while another victim from the village has been buried in the town of Biel in canton Valais.

So far 12 bodies have been found across canton Valais. The worst hit place was the village of Gondo on the Italian border. A third of the village was wiped out by mudslides; ten people are confirmed dead and three are still missing.

The remaining 130 residents of Gondo, who are staying in nearby Simplon-Dorf and Domodossola in Italy, have been given the green light to return to those homes that were not destroyed by the floods and mudslides. According to cantonal officials, there is no more risk of further landslides.

"In Gondo, no more ground movement has been detected and the amount of water in the soil has gone back to normal levels," Jean-Daniel Rouiller, a cantonal geologist said.

Meanwhile, a record number of donations were gathered on Friday to help the flood-stricken communities of Switzerland and Italy with close to SFr22 million pledged by the Swiss in a gesture of solidarity.

In 18 and a half hours, in which over a hundred telephones lines were open, the previous record for such a Solidarity Chain was broken. In 1993, SFr20 million were collected for the victims of the Brig catastrophe.

Swiss solidarity was initiated as a national collection day for the victims of floods and mudslides in canton Valais, Ticino and parts of northern Italy.

Felix Bollmann, who's in charge of the Solidarity Chain, told swissinfo: "Most of the money has come from individuals. However, about a third has come from businesses and local authorities".

Swiss business responded early to the appeal, with the country's biggest bank, UBS, and the automobile importer, AMAG, each pledging SFr1 million. Swiss Post said it would match all contributions by its employees.

Money also came from Singapore, the Vatican and Kosovo.

People wishing to add to Friday's donations can do so by postal cheque addressed to the bank account number 10-15 000-6, using "Unwetter Schweiz" as the paying in purpose.

swissinfo with agencies

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