Landslide in Switzerland leaves at least 8 missing

Rescue workers used a helicopter and dogs to search for at least eight people still unaccounted for in a Swiss Alpine valley on Thursday, a day after a mudslide and rockslide hit a small village near the Italian border.

Village with 100 residents evacuated

Tourists shoot footage of rock slide and ensuing mudslide 1:33

Rescue workers used a helicopter and dogs to search for at least eight people still unaccounted for in a Swiss Alpine valley on Thursday, a day after a mudslide and rockslide hit a small village near the Italian border. 

The village of Bondo, about 130 kilometres north of Milan, was evacuated as the slide hit Wednesday morning.

Police in Graubuenden state said buildings were damaged, and images from the scene showed a trail of destruction left by a river of mud and stone. They initially said that there were no injuries.

Mittner said a Swiss army helicopter searched the valley during the night, but found nothing.

Video shows huge swath of destruction across town 1:23

On Thursday, workers began searching with dogs but didn't immediately find anyone. A helicopter equipped with a device that can locate cellphones also was being sent up. Around 120 people were involved in the operation — police, firefighters, troops and others.

Large area to cover

Mittner described the missing people as "Alpinists and walkers."

"These people may have been in the disaster area at the time of the event," he told reporters in the nearby town of Stampa. "We hope this was not the case, but it is possible that they had an accident."

"We don't know where exactly they are missing," he added. "The area is around five kilometres long."

Thursday afternoon, police received a separate, unverified report that a group of another five or six people could be missing — but spokesperson Chiarella Piana of Graubuenden police said the group had turned up safely in Italy.

A rescue worker and a dog are transported by a helicopter in the village Bondo in Graubuenden in southern Switzerland, to help locate people missing following a landslide. (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone/Associated Press)

An alarm system went off Wednesday in time to allow for the evacuation of about 100 local residents.

Markus Walzer, a Graubuenden police spokesman, said the alarm system was put in place after a similar mudslide in the region five years ago. He said the weather in the region had been good in recent days, and the cause of the mudslide wasn't immediately known.

Mittner said that Bondo would remain sealed off until at least Friday morning. It wasn't immediately clear when residents might be able to return home.