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Tower restoration revives shattered Gondo

The landslide destroyed most of the Stockalper Tower

A major restoration project is bringing fresh hope to the tiny Swiss border village of Gondo, which was torn apart two years ago by a landslide that claimed 13 lives.

A charitable foundation plans to reconstruct Gondo's Stockalper Tower and in doing so boost the economic fortunes of the village.

In October 2000, Gondo was sliced in two by a 40-metre-wide swathe of mud and rocks loosened by three days of torrential rain.

The heart of the village, which lies on the Swiss-Italian border, was destroyed and almost all the 165 surviving inhabitants were evacuated.

The landslide swept away ten houses, the school, shops and the road.

It also reduced most of the Stockalper Tower to rubble, leaving only the very oldest part of the building standing.

The tower, which has a long and rich history, was built by a noble Valais family in the 17th century.

At the time the Simplon road - on which Gondo stands - formed part of an important trading route between northern and southern Europe.

Tower project

The Stockalper Tower Foundation, which is composed of eight members and presided over by former Swiss president Adolf Ogi, wants to rebuild the tower as a symbol for the village.

The plans for the tower include conference rooms, a community room and a small museum on the region's gold mines. The Foundation also wants to create an "Institute for Man and Time".

The organisation already has SFr200,000 ($137,500) at its disposal, half of which was donated by the cantonal authorities.

Although millions of francs were donated in the wake of the disaster, there has been disagreement over how best to spend the funds in the village.

At present, SFr16 million have been released by the canton to improve Gondo's defences. The charity, Swiss Solidarity, has handed over SFr7 million to begin the reconstruction of the village.

This will include the construction of a new village square, community centre, apartment block and car park.

swissinfo, Daniele Papacella

Gondo Stockalper Tower

Thirteen people died when a landslide swept through Gondo in October 2000.
The historic Stockalper Tower was also seriously damaged.
SFr200,000 ($137,500) has already been raised to rebuild the tower.

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