Italy: The Mountainside Exploded

Two dams collapse, and a wall of water buries a resort village

In Stava, a popular vacation town in Italy's rugged Dolomite mountains, tourists were returning to their hotels for lunch last Friday. Shortly afternoon, there was a rumbling in the ground, followed by a cloud of white dust that some mistook for smoke. "I thought it was an earthquake," said one survivor. "The mountainside exploded." Less than a mile north of the village, a pair of earthen dams had suddenly collapsed. An avalanche of water, mud and debris swept through Stava, scarring the mountainsides, destroying three hotels, burying homes and scattering bodies in its path. The deluge, some 100 ft. high and...

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