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Italy Flood Waters Recede; Thousands Still Stranded

July 21, 1987|Associated Press

SONDRIO, Italy — Flood waters receded and the sun came out Monday across the Italian Alps, but dozens of villages remained cut off and thousands of people were still stranded after floods and mud slides damaged roads and bridges.

Officials said 19 people died in four days of rain that turned the Adda and Brembo mountain streams into raging torrents and sent mud cascading down wooded mountainsides. Eight people were missing and 50 were hospitalized.

Heavy rain in southern Switzerland and Austria also caused flooding. Hundreds of homes were evacuated in Switzerland, and police said three people died in a car accident on a rain-slick road.

Thousands of troops and civilian rescue workers, aided by dogs trained for avalanche rescues, waded through lakes of mud to reach isolated villages and search for survivors.

Damage to the area, a center for summer and winter tourists and a leading producer of wine, cheese and smoked meat, was estimated at $800 million. The stricken area stretches over 150 miles from Bergamo, east of Milan, up to the Swiss border and to Bolzano to the east.

Reporters on a helicopter tour saw flood waters receding across the area, leaving yellowish brown mud over the green fields. Water still covered the ground floors of many farm houses.

The bodies of four young men were found Monday in a car submerged in the mud in Sant'Antonio Morigone, just south of Bormio near the Swiss border. Three other people were killed when they were swept into raging streams in the Alto Adige region, officials said.

Officials said 36 miles of roads were damaged and dozens of small bridges knocked down.

Hardest hit was the Valtellina Valley, near the Swiss border, where a mud slide slammed into a resort hotel and three-story condominium complex in the village of Tartano on Saturday, killing 12 people.

With the roads cut, Italian officials mounted a helicopter rescue operation to bring in food, water and medicine to an estimated 30,000 stranded villagers and to bring out the injured or sick.

The state radio reported that despite appeals to leave the roads clear for rescue equipment, thousands of tourists began leaving the area Sunday night as soon as the rains and wind subsided.

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