Tourists relieved as access to snowbound Swiss town returns

В Швейцарских Альпах застряли тысячи туристов

Tourists are asked to consider the situation in the mountains

Heavy snowfall has trapped some 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations, the Alpine resort said Tuesday.

A police official said 300 to 400 people flew out the day before, when some 13,000 tourists were unable to leave by road or rail.

"The railway can not operate at 11.15 am as planned due to the hard removal of snow between Tasch and Zermatt", the statement said.

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Some parts of the area in the French Alps have seen almost two meters of snowfall in just 36 hours.

Earlier: Swiss authorities near the famed Matterhorn peak have closed ski slopes, hiking trails, cable cars, roads and train services into Zermatt amid a heightened risk of avalanches, stranding 13,000 tourists in the town.

Workers required heavy machinery to clear snow walls up to seven metres high as extreme weather caused chaos across parts of France and Switzerland.

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The Matterhorn Gotthard railway company said the track between Zermatt and Tasch had been cleared of snow and shuttle services resumed late yesterday afternoon.

Other areas in the southern canton of Valais have suffered power outages as well as mud and rockslides and flooding, forcing a number of road closures.

Mud and rockslides, as well as flooding, have forced the closure of a number of roads across Valais, as has the risk of avalanches, which regional police have said is now at the highest possible level. British skier, John Bromell, age 39, from Willingham by Stow near Lincoln, went missing on Sunday at the Tignes ski resort in France Alps.

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Snow and broken branches filled the building's corridors and staircases, but the 29 people who were inside at the time escaped unharmed. The only way out previously was via helicopter with around 100 people airlifted out every hour.

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