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Switzerland hit by floods and landslides

Drivers were caught out by floodwaters on Monday morning near Lucerne

(Keystone)

Heavy flooding has paralysed many areas of Switzerland, leaving towns and villages stranded. Two firefighters were killed in a landslide on Sunday night.

Two days of heavy rain caused rivers to burst their banks, and disrupted parts of the transport network in central Switzerland. Weather experts say heavy rain is set to continue through Monday.

By early Monday, reports of flooding were coming in from across the region, with the authorities in Zurich, Aargau and the Bernese Oberland reporting local flooding.

In Lucerne's Entlebuch region – among the worst affected - all rail connections had been severed, and transport links across the region were disrupted. Trains to and from canton Ticino and Italy via the Gotthard tunnel were also cancelled.

Lucerne cantonal police said two firefighters were buried in a landslide. Several were reported as sodden earth began to move.

Some Lucerne communes sounded emergency alarms in the early hours of Monday morning, and Swiss radio broadcast warnings, telling people to remain in their homes.

Firefighters

The high water levels also affected the city of Lucerne itself, flooding cellars, and making roads and railway lines impassable. Some 100 firefighters have been on duty all night.

Lake Lucerne burst its banks in some places, causing problems for the towns dotted around the lake.

By Monday morning, the authorities in the Bernese Oberland town of Thun were reporting that the situation there was becoming critical, with the lake threatening to burst its banks.

Locals living near the lake were urged to take safety measures, and sandbags were being made available.

Flooding also occurred in the capital, Bern, with the Aare river breaking its banks. The Matte neighbourhood and the zoo were faced with rising waters.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Two firefighters were killed by a landslide in canton Lucerne.
Flooding has been reported as far as away Zurich and the lakes of the Bernese Oberland.
110mm of rain had fallen in parts of central and western Switzerland by Sunday.
A further 70mm was expected by Tuesday morning.

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