13,000 holidaymakers stranded by Alps snow

13,000 holidaymakers stranded by Alps snow

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Thousands of tourists have been left stranded in the Swiss Alps after heavy snowfall.

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 at the resort, popular among backpackers and the wealthy, said 100 people an hour could be transported to the nearby village of Taesch.

They said only those who requested to used the “air bridge” were being moved and insisted it was not an official evacuation.

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

Officials were reportedly carrying out controlled explosions to clear piled-up snow covering roads and railway tracks.

The extreme conditions in the region come as one avalanche ploughed into a building and others forced roads to close in nearby northern Italy.

Another avalanche reportedly burst through windows in the converted Olympic Village near Turin as up to two metres of snow fell nearby.

Staff at the Sestriere accommodation complex were reportedly forced to evacuate despite its owners insisting the village was operating as usual.

Janine Imesch of the Zermatt tourism office said her office suffered a temporary power cut but said tourists were safe with the road closures in place.

“There is nothing to panic about, everything is fine,” she added. “Only the ski areas are closed. In the village, the atmosphere is relaxed.”

The head of Zermatt’s town council, Rory Biner, told state media it had been many years since the region had seen such severe snowfall.

She said: “It surprised us a bit this year and we’re trying to make the best of it.”

At least 31.5 inches of snow had dropped in Zermatt over a 24-hour period, according to Switzerland’s WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, which raised the risk of an avalanche taking place to a maximum warning level of five.

Authorities expect conditions to improve by Wednesday.

(c) Sky News 2018: 13,000 holidaymakers stranded by Alps snow