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New mudslide hits villages in Switzerland

Thunderstorms have set off a new mudslide through south-eastern villages in Switzerland near the Italian border, close to where a powerful mudslide left eight people missing and feared dead last week.

The mudslide demolished several houses in Bondo, the most-hit village from the recent slides, where clean-up crews had already been working, and neighbouring Promontogno and Spino.

No injuries were initially reported.

About a dozen people were evacuated and the main road linking the region to Italy was covered over with mud and left impassable in two places, officials said.

Officials blocked off access to the roads, which were said to be the main risk, and warned that more mudslides could come in the area, about 130 kilometres (80 miles) north of Milan.

"There is an imminent danger of further rock falls on the mountain and further mudslides in the valley," said spokesman Christian Gartmann, of the nearby town of Bregaglia.

"The concerns are real."

Mr Gartmann said flooding in the early morning had taken place further north on the regional road along the Maloja pass, between the villages of Vicosoprano and Casaccia.

He was correcting an earlier town statement that said a second mudslide had happened there.

Authorities had already been warning about the possibility that forecast heavy rainfall on Thursday and Friday could unleash new mudslides following a huge, rocky mudslide on August 23.

That slide was triggered when a rock face broke off the nearby Pizzo Cengalo peak, spilling what authorities said was about four million cubic metres (140 million cubic feet) of rocks and mud towards Bondo in the valley.

They said the impact was equivalent to 3.0 on the Richter scale.

Over the weekend, rescue teams stopped searching for two Austrians, two Swiss and four Germans who had gone missing following that first disaster.

AP

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