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Rescuers give up hope of finding flood victims alive

The landslide wiped out two chalets and some farm buildings

(Keystone)

Rescue workers say they have given up hope of finding three people, missing since a landslide destroyed two chalets near Nendaz in canton Valais late on Tuesday. Police said the mudslide was triggered by a burst water main.

The victims disappeared after an avalanche of mud and rock swept 1,000 metres down into a valley, wiping out two chalets and a number of farm buildings.

"We are still hoping to find their remains," said the leader of the rescue mission, Paul-Andre Gillioz.

The three - a man and two women - were aged between 30 and 50 years old, and were walking their dogs when the landslide struck.

Police said a sudden escape of water from a pressurised pipe underground had destabilised an "enormous" amount of earth, causing the landslide.

The pipe leads to a nearby hydroelectric power plant, run by the Energie Ouest Suisse company. The production director, Pierre Desponds, said mountain guides had found a nine-metre crack in the pipe.

He said it was too early to say what had caused the pipe to burst.

The incident comes two months after a landslide swept through the mountain village of Gondo in canton Valais, killing 13 people. That disaster was set off by days of intense rain.

swissinfo with agencies

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