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LANDSLIDE

Search for eight missing in Alps called off: Swiss police

The search for eight hikers missing in the Swiss Alps has been called off, police announced on Saturday, three days after they were lost in a massive landslide.

Search for eight missing in Alps called off: Swiss police
The eight missing were hiking Wednesday on the Piz Cengalo mountain, near the Italian border, when the landslide struck. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

“We have done everything possible to find them, but (police) rescue official Andrea Mittner has announced this afternoon that the search has now been abandoned,” Sandra Scianguetta, police spokeswoman for the eastern canton of Grisons, told AFP.

“We will not now be able to find anyone,” Mittner was cited by Swiss media as saying.

The eight missing – four Germans, two Austrians and two Swiss – were hiking Wednesday on the Piz Cengalo mountain, near the Italian border, when the landslide struck, sending mud, rocks and dirt cascading down the mountain.

About 100 people were evacuated from the border village of Bondo, which was hit by the debris.

About 120 emergency workers equipped with infrared cameras and mobile phone detectors, helicopters and rescue dogs had been scouring a five-square-kilometre (1.9-square-mile) area of the disaster.

Dramatic footage from Wednesday showed an entire mountainside disintegrating, unleashing a mass of thick mud and sludge that tore up trees and demolished at least one building.

The landslide was so severe that the vibrations set off seismometers across Switzerland, measuring the equivalent of a 3.0-magnitude earthquake, according to the Swiss Seismological Service.

Experts suggested that climate change could be partially to blame for the disaster, with melting permafrost and an adjacent glacier likely destabilising the landmass.

There could be more landslides in the area, local geologist Andreas Huwiler warned.

SWITZERLAND

Parts of Austria added to Switzerland’s quarantine list

Parts of Austria along with Luxembourg and Montenegro have been added to Switzerland's quarantine list.

Parts of Austria added to Switzerland's quarantine list
AFP
France, Belgium and Armenia have been removed from Switzerland’s quarantine list, while parts of Austria along with Luxembourg and Montenegro have been added. 

Switzerland in late October amended its quarantine rules, reducing the number of countries where arrivals are required to quarantine in Switzerland from more than 60 to just four. 

On Wednesday, November 18th, Switzerland updated that list again – removing France, Belgium and Armenia from the mandatory quarantine list. 

'Scandalous': Swiss government 'knew coronavirus quarantine for travellers was ineffective' 

The Austrian states of Upper Austria and Salzburg are considered risk areas pursuant to the changes. Otherwise, only Andorra, Luxembourg, Montenegro and the Czech Republic can be found on Switzerland's list.

The changes will come into effect from November 23rd. 

Prior to Wednesday, arrivals from Belgium, Armenia and the French capital of Paris had been required to quarantine for ten days on arrival in Switzerland. 

From November 23rd, arrivals from those countries can enter freely, while residents of Switzerland are free to travel to those countries without having to quarantine on their return, the Federal Office of Public Health confirmed on Wednesday. 

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