Cleaning up and rebuilding the Swiss town of Bondo following a massive landslide will take years and it remains unclear when residents can return to their homes, authorities said on Tuesday.
At an information session held in the neighbouring town of Vicosoprano, canton Graubünden official Mario Cavigelli told the 300 people gathered that the reconstruction phase had begun following a period of intervention to make sure subsequent landslides would not cause more damage. Cavigelli said reconstruction could take three or more years.
Currently, crews are working to clear a massive holding basin where much of the debris from the landslide ended up. Cavigelli said residents would have to wait to return to their homes until that basin is emptied and did not name a specific timeline.
Workers must clear about 200,000 cubic metres (seven million cubic feet) of rock and earth from the basin and dispose of it in the northern part of the valley. The crews must also be prepared to evacuate the basin at any time since a threat of futher landslides remains.
Some three million cubic metres of rock and earth fell from Piz Cengalo above Bondo last Wednesday in the landslide that left eight hikers missing. The search for the hikers was called off on Saturday.
Graubünden’s government has pledged CHF800,000 ($838,900) in aid to cover initial cleanup costs.
The landslide is one of the largest to hit Switzerland in the last century. Piz Cengalo had been under observation since 2011, when another – albeit largely unnoticed – landslide caused 1.5 million cubic metres of the mountainside to collapse.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/vdv