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Switzerland's Zermatt ski resort cut off due to avalanche risk

12 January 2018

Ski areas affected include Saas-Fee, the southern slope of the Simplon and the neighbouring valleys from Visp to Zermatt, according to WSL estimates from Monday evening.

Tourists make their way to the heliport prior to their evacuation by helicopter after heavy snowfall and avalanches trapped more than 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, which is one of Switzerland's most popular ski resorts on January 10, 2018.

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

Local officials said no lives were ever in danger and the situation was calm, with cafes open and many streets walkable.

Roads leading in and out of resort have been closed by police since Monday morning, while all trains to and from resort were cancelled on Monday night, following the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research upping the avalanche risk level to the maximum of five.

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

Heavy snow leaves thousands of tourists stranded at Swiss ski resort
UPDATED: 13000 tourists stranded in Zermatt, village cut off as avalanche risk raised to max

The heavy snowfall has caused casualties across the region.

Zermatt's manager, Janine Imesch, told AFP news agency there were around 13,000 tourists located in the region at present.

The village of Gondo on the Swiss-Italian border is also cut off due to a mudslide on Monday.

Snow and broken branches filled the building's corridors and staircases, but the 29 people who were inside at the time escaped unharmed.

On the French side, where Meteo France said Tuesday the avalanche threat has diminished, rescuers were able to start looking for a British skier missing for the past two days, with a helicopter searching the area where a signal from his mobile phone was last picked up.

The Zermatt tourism office said Wednesday: "After being cut off for nearly two days, Zermatt can now be accessed by train again".

TODAY'S FORECAST: Rain, high near 50
We also have areas of patchy fog, but thankfully we have enough wind today to prevent that from becoming an even bigger problem. Showers are passing through this evening, watch out for some ponding on some area roads with some of the snow melt.

Switzerland's Zermatt ski resort cut off due to avalanche risk