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Snow strands thousands of tourists in Switzerland

10 January 2018

Tens of thousands of tourists and locals were stranded across the Alps today after "once-in-a-generation" weather that dumped nearly 7 feet of snow on some ski resorts in less than 48 hours.

About 13,000 holidaymakers in the Swiss resort of Zermatt have been left stranded as nearby roads, trains and cable cars into the town were closed over fears of avalanches in the region.

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.

Snow strands thousands of tourists in Switzerland
Snow strands thousands of tourists in Switzerland

Bulldozers were plowing through the snowdrifts in Zermatt so that streets could be salted.

Visitors have been stuck in the mountain resort for two days after snow blocked road and rail links.

The extreme conditions in the region come as one avalanche ploughed into a building and others forced roads to close in nearby northern Italy. The latest announcement on Zermatt's website states that the road between Zermatt and Täsch has been re-opened, with continued work being done to clear railway lines between Täsch and Zermatt and Täsch and Visp.

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She added: "The atmosphere in the village is relaxed and comfortable".

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.

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

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The avalanche risk is set at the rarely used maximum on a five-point scale.

While warmer temps have been experienced across lowland Switzerland recently, heavy snowfall above 1,400 meters brought a high avalanche risk to much of southwestern part of the country, including Saas-Fee, a neighboring resort to Zermatt.

Authorities said conditions were expected to improve Wednesday.

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Snow strands thousands of tourists in Switzerland