Snow, avalanche risks strand 13000 tourists in Zermatt


"An airlift has been set up and is in operation from 3 5 p.m. (departure from Air Zermatt base)". The only way out previously was via helicopter with around 100 people airlifted out every hour.

Some guests wishing to leave resort were transported by helicopter to Taesch, a town about 5km away, on Tuesday afternoon.

"The situation is actually very calm in the village", Christian Ziorjen from Zermatt Tourism said.

Zermatt's tourist information office said evacuations were not expected to continue on Wednesday as they were working hard to open the railway. "No one can go skiing or hiking, but it's quiet, even a little bit romantic".

Rail and road links were cut off after at least 80 centimeters (31.5 inches) of snow dropped on the area over 24 hours, according to Switzerland's WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research.

French emergency workers said the heavy snowfall and extreme avalanche risk, which is at a maximum of five, had prevented extensive searches on the ground for Mr Bromell.

The Swiss ski resort of Zermatt is located near the Matterhorn mountain, which of course is the inspiration for the classic Disneyland attraction Matterhorn Bobsleds. Swiss authorities have closed ski slopes, hiking trails, cable cars, roads and train service into the town of Zermatt amid a heightened risk of avalanches, stranding some 13,000 tourists in the town. The atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable.

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.

An avalanche hit a five-storey building in Sestrieres, in the Italian Alps, late on Monday, but the 29 people staying in the building escaped without injury, fleeing through the garage.

A British skier remains missing in the French Alps ski resort of Tignes in Savoie, which is under red alert for avalanches.