Elite skiers use dynamite to clear path to stranded Alps resorts

Adjust Comment Print

The town of Zermatt at the base of the Matterhorn on a more peaceful evening.

Tourists visiting the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt were stranded at the resort for two days due to heavy recent snowfall and an elevated risk of avalanches.

"After nearly two days that Zermatt was cut off from the rest of the world, the destination is now reachable by train", it said in a statement. The resort website says: "Without question, it is inadvisable to engage in ski touring, freeriding and snowshoe hiking outside marked and open pistes". With nearby 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.

An official said about 100 people could be evacuated per hour, conditions permitting.

In the Swiss resort of Zermatt, 13,000 holidaymakers have been left stranded.

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.

Officials raised the area's avalanche risk level to 5 - the maximum.

Zermatt's manager, Janine Imesch, told AFP news agency there were around 13,000 tourists located in the region at present.

The heavy snowfall has caused casualties across the region.

On Monday, an avalanche reportedly hit a five-story building in the Italian resort of Sestrieres.

Blizzards have also plagued French areas of the Alps with workers forced to cut through a 22ft wall of snow to clear a road in the south-east of the country.

A British skier - John Bromell, 39, from Willingham by Stow near Lincoln - went missing on Sunday at the Tignes ski resort in France Alps.Bad weather prevented a search on Monday, however French police have told the BBC that a helicopter search for Mr Bromell will begin this afternoon.