Severe rainfall causes landslide and deaths in Ticino

The wreckage of a house affected by a landslide in Ticino Keystone

More heavy rainfall after many days of flooding in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland has led to the deaths of two people and the injury of others. A landslide near Lugano, Ticino, on Saturday night buried a house in a village where the people lived.

This content was published on November 16, 2014 minutes and agencies

According to police, the deceased are two women, aged 38 and 34. The long-time partner of one of the women, a 44-year-old Italian man, was pulled alive from the rubble by rescuers and taken to hospital.

Three further residents of the building sustained mild injuries and another was able to call for help immediately after returning home and discovering what had happened. One other person who lives in the building was away at the time.  

Around 140 police, fire and rescue officers with dogs were at the scene on Sunday in the village of Davesco-Soragno, which according to the local mayor is not in a mudslide danger zone. 

Geologist Urs Lüchinger, brought in by the investigation team to look at the site, said a wall above the property had become unstable due to the heavy rainfall and had eventually toppled down the slope, taking mud, stones and other debris with it, before hitting the building.

On Monday, Lüchinger said they would have to find out over the next few days what role the wall had played in the deaths.

Dangerously high water levels

By Saturday night canton Ticino had received 50-70 millimetres of rain in the space of 24 hours, according to MeteoSwiss, the federal climatology office.

It's a continuation of a recent spate of heavy rainfall that led to a landslide a week earlier in canton Ticino, killing a woman and her young daughter. 

The water level on Lake Lugano has been rising over the past week or so and has surged over the banks in a number of places. Many streets surrounding the lake have been blocked off for this reason.

Along with Lake Maggiore, both have been given a flooding risk of level five, the highest and most dangerous.

The water level on Lake Maggiore in Locarno has risen to 196.19 metres, almost three metres over the yearly average.

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