The search for eight Alpinists missing in Switzerland has been called off, three days after a massive rockslide crashed down the Bondasca valley where they had been hiking.
"We have exhausted all possibilities for finding these missing people," regional police spokeswoman Sandra Scianguetta said on Saturday.
"The decision was made to give up the search for the missing."
The rescue team drew the conclusion that the four Germans, two Swiss and two Austrians were likely swept away by the rubble on Wednesday, she said.
Four million cubic metres of rock - equivalent to 4000 family homes - rained down from Piz Cengalo mountain and down the sloping valley that day, creating a landslide that grazed Bondo, a village near the Italian border.
More than 100 rescuers with helicopters and sniffing dogs were deployed to look for the hikers, but the search turned up no traces in the valley, which was filled with up to 30 metres of rubble.
On Friday, a second landslide came down in the area, halting the search operation.
The decision on Saturday was made in light of the time that has passed since Wednesday's rockslide, and the dangers that rescuers would face in the area, Ms Scianguetta explained.
"One also has to protect the rescuers, so that we don't end up having additional victims," she said.
The risk of new landslides at Bondo is still very high, according to Andreas Huwiler, a geologist at the local Forestry and Natural Hazards Agency.
"The biggest danger occurs if there are rains or thunderstorms for several days in the area," he told the Neue Zuercher Zeitung newspaper.
In Bondo, buildings have been destroyed but no-one has been injured or killed, thanks to a warning system and a run-off reservoir that were put in place since a large rockslide hit the area in 2011.
In recent weeks, experts had noted increased geological activity on Piz Cengalo, and the Bondo village authority had put up signs to warn hikers of an impending rockslide.