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Massive landslide threatens Mont Blanc tunnel in Italy

English.news.cn   2014-04-23 07:43:04

MILAN, Italy, April 22 (Xinhua) -- A series of landslides over the past few days have disrupted traffic near Courmayeur, a renowned tourist resort in the Italian Alps, forcing temporarily closure of Mont Blanc tunnel, local reports said on Tuesday.

Around 20,000 cubic meters of mud and rock fell on Monday night, while another estimated 400,000 cubic meters of earth were on the move triggered by rising temperatures.

Local authorities reportedly closed Mont Blanc tunnel, which links Italy and France, for about two hours as a result of the crashing rocks.

Meanwhile dozens of citizens had to temporarily leave their homes while protection teams and volunteers were at work to clean roads and shore up protective barriers against further landslides.

After visiting Courmayeur on Tuesday, the head of Italian civil protection Franco Gabrielli told a press conference that the situation was "complex" not only for the "hundreds of thousands of cubic meters that will soon begin to fall, but especially because of a paleo-landslide of about 8-9 million cubic meters which has affected this area for 15 years."

He said that although it was not possible to predict when the paleo-landslide will fall completely, the renowned tourist resort was remaining "extremely safe." However, Gabrielli also added, the series of landslides was posing a threat to Mont Blanc tunnel because "an intermediate collapse would be enough to block international traffic for who knows how long."

The head of civil protection said that a total of 480,000 areas subject to landslides have been counted in Italy. But the real figure, he underlined, probably was of nearly two million areas, meaning that some 40 billion euros (55 billion U.S. dollars) would be necessary to secure the entire country.

Editor: An
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