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Switzerland counts the costs of weekend storms

The village of Schlans was cut in half by the landslide

(swissinfo.ch)

Hundreds of people are still unable to return to their homes and several villages remain cut off after heavy storms caused landslides and flooding in eastern Switzerland.

Clean-up operations are underway but the damage is severe and repairs are expected to cost millions of francs.

Some 300 people from the villages of Schlans, Panix and Tersnau in the canton of Graubünden, who were evacuated this weekend, are still unable to return to their homes.

According to the cantonal police, the situation has now appeared to have stablised with only a few, small landslides reported since the weekend.

Recovery work has begun but is being hampered by more heavy rainfall.

Roads and railways between Ilanz and Disentis are expected to remain closed until the end of the week. The station at Felsberg is also reported to be shut, due to flooding.

Two charitable organisations, Caritas Schweiz and "Glückskette" (Solidarity Fund), have made SFr500,000 available for the victims.

Heavy rain

The damage follows the heavy rain that hit Switzerland on Saturday, cutting off remote mountain villages and disrupting rail services in certain parts of the country.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from the village of Schlans after a mudslide left the village cut off from the outside world.

A police spokesman in Schlans, a village in canton Graubünden, said the landslide had torn right through the middle of the village, injuring several people.

Bruno Pfister, one of around 100 people who live in the tiny village, said he had been watching the local creek swelling up.

"Suddenly 10-metre-wide boulders thundered towards us. I will never forget this horrible image," he told the SonntagsBlick newspaper.

The floodwaters destroyed a mill and several farm buildings.

Landslides in canton Uri and the southern canton of Ticino also forced authorities to shut several roads and rail links.

According to the Swiss Meteorological Office, more than 450 litres of rain per square metre fell on the Ticinese town of Mogadino between Thursday and Saturday.

Water level

Lake Maggiore, which is situated at the Italian border, also burst its banks in some areas.

Several houses were evacuated in the town of Bellinzona and an ice hockey match between Ambri-Piotta and the Zurich Lions was cancelled as more landslides were expected to hit the area.

In western Switzerland, the region around Geneva was worst affected and more than 100 people had to leave their homes in the village of Lully, which was hit by serious flooding.

Mudslides and flooding continued to disrupt major rail lines on Sunday. The Gotthard route through the Alps that connects northern Switzerland with Ticino and Italy was open again after major disruptions on Saturday.

The bad weather rekindled memories of October 2000, when 13 people died in a mudslide that hit the town of Gondo.

Two funds to raise money for the flood victims have been set up. Donations can be made through the Catholic charity, Caritas to account number 60-7000-4.

The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation has also set up a Solidarity Fund - account number: 10-15000-6. Donations should be marked "Unwetter Schweiz".

swissinfo with agencies

in brief

Hundreds of people are unable to return to their homes and several villages remain cut off after heavy storms caused landslides and flooding in canton Graubünden.

The damage is estimated to run to millions of francs.

The situation has now appeared to have stablised with only a few, small landslides reported since the weekend.

Recovery work has begun but is being hampered by more heavy rainfall.

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