Residents of landslide-hit Bondo finally begin to return home

Around 65 residents of Bondo, the Graubünden village that was hit by a major landslide in August, were finally able to return to their homes on Saturday, nearly two months after the disaster.

Residents of landslide-hit Bondo finally begin to return home
Bondo after the two landslips. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP
The Val Bregaglia village was evacuated just before three million cubic metres of rock detached from the Piz Cengalo mountain on August 23rd, sparking a wave of rock, mud and sludge that engulfed Bondo, damaging homes and businesses and cutting off roads.
The risk of further landslides, damage to roads and the lack of electricity and water has until now meant no one was able to return home, apart from briefly to collect belongings. 
But on Saturday the first of the village’s 160 residents could sleep in their beds once again, after a provisional access road was opened and water and electricity supplies reconnected. 
The 65 who returned home live in the so-called ‘green zone’, which has been deemed safe, reported news agency ATS.
However much is still to do before the village can return to normal. Huge efforts must be made to clear debris from the riverbed and a rock retention basin before villagers living in the ‘red zone’ – still currently deemed unsafe – can also return home.
That may happen in mid-November, said ATS.
Residents in the surrounding hamlets of Spino and Sottoponte – also evacuated after a second landslide a few days after the first – will likely to be able to return home in the coming weeks.
When they do, they will have to live with the threat of further rockfalls from the Piz Cengalo. According to experts, some 1.5 million cubic metres of rock remain unstable and further landslides are possible, though not immediately likely. 
The area has an alert system, which enabled the evacuation of the village before the disaster struck. 


Graubünden village faces new rockfall threat

The village of Bondo in the Val Bregaglia region of Graubünden is once more under threat of rockfalls just a few months after residents began to return home following a huge landslide that hit the village in August.

Graubünden village faces new rockfall threat
Bondo after last summer's landslides. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP
Some four million cubic metres of rock detached from the Piz Cengalo mountain on August 23rd after a period of heavy rain, sending a wave of mud, rock and debris into the village that destroyed some properties and cut off vital services
The landslide was so severe that its vibrations were measured to be the equivalent of a 3 magnitude earthquake. 
Eight hikers were presumed killed in the tragedy – their bodies were never found – and the village, though thankfully evacuated in time, was left uninhabitable until October
Now the village is faced with the prospect of further rockfalls. 
Officials from the region told the media that another large rockfall occurred on the Piz Cengalo last week, and some two million cubic metres of rock remain unstable, with at least half of that at high risk of falling in the coming days. 
Torrential rain forecast for the area over the next few days, which is particularly bad news since the retention basin – built to help protect the village from rockfalls – has not yet been entirely emptied after the last landslide.