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.
However eight hikers who were in the region at the time went missing in the landslide and have never been found.