ZERMATT: Tens of thousands of people have been stranded across the Alps after “once-in-a-generation” weather dumped nearly 2 meters of snow on some ski resorts in less than 48 hours.
Unusually heavy snowfall and a high risk of Alpine avalanches have stranded 13,000 tourists in the Swiss resort of Zermatt at the base of the famed Matterhorn mountain. She said no people were at risk because authorities had shut down access to the nearby ski slopes and hiking trails a day earlier.
Despite the fact that they are stranded, the tourists are reported to be in good spirits.
“There is nothing to panic about, everything is fine”, she said Tuesday by phone.
Towns and villages across Switzerland, France and Italy have been cut off and ski areas closed.
Mud and rockslides, as well as flooding, closed a number of roads across Valais.
Staff at the Sestriere accommodation complex were reportedly forced to evacuate despite its owners insisting the village was operating as usual.
In Switzerland, the first men’s World Cup downhill training run in Wengen was also cancelled.
Although the piste itself was unaffected, overnight winds of up to 200 kilometres per hour caused significant damage to infrastructure on the course, notably at the finish where tents and the stands were hit.
More than a metre (39in) of snow fell in parts on Monday alone.
But the 29 people staying there managed to escape unharmed through the garage.
Emergency services struggled to reach people in need of help and a 70-year-old woman was declared dead on arrival at the local hospital after the ambulance sent to pick her up was delayed by a fallen tree. While it brought heavy snow to high-altitude regions it brought heat to others.
Tignes and Val d’Isere have been in lockdown with tourists and residents confined to the area.
Preventative releases of avalanches will be set in motion as soon as the helicopters can take off, local authorities have said.