Rescue crews are searching for up to 14 people including Germans, Austrians and Swiss missing for more than a day after a landslide struck a remoteSwiss mountain valley near the Italian border, police said on Thursday.
Authorities evacuated around 100 people from the village of Bondo and airlifted hikers from nearby huts in the eastern canton of Grisons after rocks and mud hit the area on Wednesday.
Police said they were unable to reach eight people, six of whom had been reported missing by relatives, despite intensified searches by teams including an army helicopter outfitted with thermal sensing technology as well as rescue dogs.
At a televised news conference on Thursday, police said another group of six people might also be missing, though it was unclear from relatives whether these individuals were in the area where the landslide occurred or somewhere else.
“The relatives don’t know just where they were,” police Lieutenant Andrea Mittner.
Those missing were described as hikers and climbers. No children or locals from the region were reported missing.
Austria’s Foreign Ministry said a married Austrian couple were among those unaccounted for.
The landslide’s force registered a magnitude of 3 on the Richter scale, Mittner said, equivalent to a small earthquake that can be felt by people and might shake indoor objects.
“You can imagine just what a mass had to come down to cause an earthquake scenario,” he said.
Bondo was to remain sealed off until 0800 GMT on Friday, Mittner said, as additional landslides were possible. About 120 rescue workers were on the scene.