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Snow leaves 13,000 stranded at Zermatt ski resort in Switzerland's Alps

Wednesday January 10, 2018 - 14:52 EDT

Unusually heavy snow has left about 13,000 people stranded at a ski resort in the Swiss Alps.

Guests at the Zermatt resort, near the Italian border, were being airlifted by helicopter after the snow closed mountain lifts, ski runs, walking paths and train services to the village.

Swiss authorities sent helicopters to ferry some of the thousands of tourists to a nearby village to escape the snow-bound Alpine valley.



A police official in Zermatt, a tourist magnet for backpackers and millionaires alike, said the helicopter journey to the village of Taesch took abound three minutes.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the so-called air bridge could transport about 100 people an hour, conditions permitting.



Only tourists who requested the air bridge were being ferried out, they said, insisting that it was not an official evacuation.

Zermatt's tourist information office said evacuations were not expected to continue on Wednesday as they were working hard to open the railway.

Switzerland's Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research said on Tuesday afternoon (local time) that at least 80 centimetres of snow had dropped on the Zermatt area over the past 24 hours, raising the avalanche risk to a maximum level of five on an avalanche-warning scale.



The intense snowfall in the Zermatt and Saas valleys was part of a broader weather pattern that was causing mudslides and intensifying the avalanche risk across a broad swathe of south-western Switzerland.

At the weekend



AP/Reuters


- ABC

© ABC 2018

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