Unusually heavy snowfall has trapped around 13,000 tourists at the Swiss resort of Zermatt, one of the country’s most popular ski stations.
The snow has blocked all roads and the train leading to the resort in the southern Swiss canton of Valais, which was also hit by some power outages, head of the train station Janine Imesch said.
The main access road has been closed since early Monday, while the train was halted Monday evening, she said.
Switzerland’s WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research said Monday afternoon that at least 80 cm (31.5 inches) of snow had fallen on the Zermatt area over the last 24 hours, raising the avalanche risk to a maximum level.
French forecasters have described the snowfall as the kind only seen “once in every 30 years.”
A number of other Valais villages were also isolated by heavy snow, including the Simplon region of Valais, which was hit by two metres of snow in a 24-hour period, (more than 6 ft), the ATS news agency reported.
With roads, trains, cable cars, ski slopes and hiking trails into the town closed, Swiss authorities deployed helicopters to ferry some tourists to a nearby village to escape the snow-bound Alpine valley.
The the so-called “air bridge” can transport about 100 people an hour, conditions permitting.
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Thanks to Dean Koehler, Ben Vorlich and Glenn Cuthbert for these links