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Survivor Found in Alps Landslide

October 16, 2000

SION, Switzerland (AP) _ Rescuers resumed their search Monday for 14 people missing in weekend mudslides that killed at least nine people in Switzerland and Italy. Swiss officials said they had found a woman alive in a wrecked mountain village.

Army and civilian rescuers with sniffer dogs combed the Swiss southern border village of Gondo, a third of which was destroyed Saturday, for 13 missing people who were missing.

Police had said Sunday all are feared dead. But officials told reporters Monday that they were trying to dig out a woman who was still alive under more than 6 feet of debris.

Brigadier Daniel Roubaty said the woman was located by a dog, and rescue workers were then able to speak to her.

Two more people were still missing after a mudslide on Sunday swept away four houses near the village of Stalden.

Late Sunday, rescuers found the body of a woman whose car was caught in another mudslide on the road leading to the Great St. Bernard pass crossing to Italy. Swiss police said Monday that they had found a second body.

Franziskus Escher, a spokesman for the Valais state crisis unit, said they remained on alert. Several thousand people were evacuated from their homes over the weekend.

The Rhone river receded slightly as the rain eased. But much of the southern state was still cut off by road, and rail links were expected to remain closed for days.

In Italy, torrential rains continued relentlessly across the country’s north on Monday, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people, snarling traffic, and cutting off phone lines and rail lines. Forecasts said the rain would continue through the day.

Seven people died Sunday, including a 7-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy, in Val D’Aosta and Piedmont regions.

In Turin, capital of Piedmont, the Dora Baltea river burst its banks overnight, flooding several main streets with about 20 inches of water and mud. Other rivers appeared above their average level, said Civil Defense spokesman Marco Ludovici.

Most of Turin’s 29 bridges were closed Monday, and at least 250 people were forced from their homes. The Caselle airport was also shut down.

Power lines were wiped out for about 25,000 people in Val D’Aosta, Ludovici said. More than 2,000 people were also evacuated from their homes in villages around the region’s capital, Aosta.

At least 6,500 men were working in the regions, trying to restore road links, ferrying out residents from cutoff villages and searching the area for the missing.

In Lombardy, some 40 families were evacuated as the Ticino appeared swollen by the rains.

Update hourly