13000 tourists stranded in Swiss resort town due to avalanche risk

  • 13000 tourists stranded in Swiss resort town due to avalanche risk

13000 tourists stranded in Swiss resort town due to avalanche risk

While the Western United States is in the midst of one of the worst starts to winter in recent memory and the East Coast is bundled up against the insane wind chills of a Bomb Cyclone, halfway across the world, the Swiss Alps are receiving so much snow it has forced the closure of one of their most famous resorts.

A warning on the resort's website homepage reads that all hiking trails and cable cars remain closed, and asked all residents and tourists to remain in their homes while snow clearing crews work on clearing roads and hazards.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, said Tuesday that about 100 people could be evacuated per hour, conditions permitting.

Bulldozers have since been deployed in Zermatt to plough through snowdrifts so streets can be salted.

Officials said roads and rail lines were covered in snow.

In the Italian Alpine resort of Sestrieres, where more than two metres of snow fell in 48 hours, an avalanche struck a five-storey building late on Monday, sending a mass of snow and broken branches into its corridors and even into several apartments, media reports said.

Janine Imesch of the Zermatt tourism office said power has been restored after a temporary outage.

"There is nothing to panic about, everything is fine", she added. "Only the ski areas are closed". "The atmosphere in the village is relaxed and comfortable".

"The persons in charge are working with high pressure", a statement said on Zermatt's official website as tourists and locals bedded in for another night in the resort.

"It surprised us a bit this year and we're trying to make the best of it", Biner said.

But an avalanche risk at its highest level means the stranded tourists will not be able to take advantage of the abundant snow for the time being.

Authorities expect conditions to improve by Wednesday.