Swiss floods isolate resort, impair rail service

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NEW YORK -- Rescue teams in the village of Gondo in the Valais region of Switzerland accounted for six dead as of Oct. 17, following torrential rain and mud slides, a spokesman for Switzerland Tourism here confirmed. Another nine people remained missing. All 15 were Swiss.

Six train lines were temporarily shut down in the Valais region, and roads and train lines leading into and out of the mountain resort of Zermatt were closed, the spokesman said. Approximately 800 tourists staying in Zermatt were airlifted by helicopters.

Rail service was expected to be restored by Oct. 19 from Zermatt to the nearest town of Taesch, from where evacuees could take a bus or car.

Zermatt has a total of 118 hotels with a combined 6,500 beds and was the only resort area still isolated after the weekend, the spokesman said.

Elsewhere in the flood-stricken Valais and Italian-speaking Ticino, problems remained with phone service and local roads located near lakes.

A Rail Europe spokeswoman reported after the weekend that rail service was still running below normal on the Brigue-Domoddossola, St Maurice-Monthey, Brigue-Oberwald and Bex-Viullars-Bretaye routes.

Swiss trains to Italy were rerouted, including night trains departing from Geneva, Lausanne and Bern, the Rail Europe spokeswoman said.

In France, night trains to Italy were rerouted with departure times as scheduled, but there were arrival delays of from six to seven hours. All TGV service from Paris to Milan, Italy, was suspended indefinitely.

The tourist board spokesman said that during the heaviest rainfall, on Oct. 13 and 14, there were some places in the region that registered more rain in 24 hours than would they would usually receive in the entire month of October.

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