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Three missing in Alpine mudslide

GENEVA, Switzerland -- Three people are missing, presumed dead, after a mudslide tore through a village in the mountainous south-west of Switzerland.

Police spokesman Pierre-Martin Moulin said the slide was triggered by a burst water main at the Cleuson-Dixence hydroelectric plant 1000 metres (3281 feet) above the village of Nendaz.

The force of water from the main, which was located in a cavern 100 metres (328 feet) underground, caused two separate landslips to plummet downwards onto residential properties below.

Two chalets and several farm buildings were swept away, and a main road was blocked for a time.

A number of a people were evacuated safely, but three remain unaccounted for.

The landslide continued downwards into the River Rhone 1,006 metres (3,300 feet) below, causing temporary flooding.

The Cleuson-Dixence station, run by West Swiss Electricity, opened in 1999, but was closed for six months from February 2000 after ultrasound tests detected faulty welding in some of its pipelines.

Its water supply has now been cut off, and there is, according to police, no danger of further slides.

The incident comes weeks after another landslide, triggered by torrential rain, killed 13 people in the mountain village of Gondo, which, like Nendaz, is in the canton of Valais.

Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Four dead in Italian landslides
November 21, 2000
Explosives used in hunt for mudslide victims
October 19, 2000
Death toll rises in Italian campsite mudslide
September 11, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Swiss Government
Haute Nendaz

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