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Landslide Survivor Found in Alps

October 16, 2000

SION, Switzerland (AP) _ Rescuers resumed their search Monday for 22 people missing after a weekend of mudslides and flooding that killed at least nine in Switzerland and Italy. Swiss officials said they found a woman alive in a wrecked mountain village.

Army and civilian rescuers with sniffer dogs combed the Swiss southern border village of Gondo for 12 people still missing after a torrent of rocks and mud destroyed a third of the town. One body has been recovered.

All were feared dead Sunday, but officials said Monday that they were trying to dig out a woman who was still alive under 6 1/2 feet of debris.

A dog led search crews to her. Rescue workers were able to speak to her, Brigadier Daniel Roubaty said.

``We never lose hope″ of finding survivors, said Franziskus Escher, head of the Valais state crisis unit.

Two others were missing in another Swiss village after a mudslide swept away four houses near Stalden on Sunday.

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 to Italy.

The Rhone river receded by about 2 feet as rains eased. But many parts of the southern state remained cut off by road and rail.

On the other side of the Alps, Lake Maggiore was at its highest level in a century, said Christian Koch of the federal office for geology. The main square in the Swiss lakeside town of Locarno was flooded.

In Italy, torrential rains continued to batter the country’s north Monday, forcing the evacuation of thousands, snarling traffic and cutting off phone lines and rail lines.

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

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. Waters were rising in other rivers as well, Civil Defense spokesman Marco Ludovici said.

Most of Turin’s 29 bridges were closed off Monday and the Caselle airport was temporarily shut down.

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