Tourists airlifted out of Alpine ski resorts

The iconic Matterhorn as seen from outside Zermatt

The iconic Matterhorn as seen from outside Zermatt

Heavy snowfall has cut off many villages and resorts across the Alps, trapping some 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations, officials said on Tuesday. "Only the ski areas are closed". Nearby cable cars, ski slopes and hiking trails had been closed a day earlier. It advised people to follow instructions and stay at home so as not to hamper the ongoing clean-up operation. "The atmosphere in the village is relaxed and comfortable".

"Power has returned, there's still the chance that it could go out. but at this time things look good", a tourist office spokeswoman in the town said. "People are enjoying the snow, going shopping, eating and drinking".

In the French Alps, a slight break in the weather meant rescuers could begin looking for a British skier who went missing on Sunday in the resort of Tignes, police said.

Tourists airlifted out of Alpine ski resorts

Helicopters flew for about two hours on Tuesday afternoon, she said.

Both the road and the railway line to Zermatt were closed after the avalanche risk was raised to five, commune president Romy Biner-Hauser told Valais paper Le Nouvelliste on Monday evening, however as yet the village has not had to be evacuated.

Swiss state-backed broadcaster SRF showed images of several people wheeling their luggage out to three helicopters, with their blades whirring atop an icy plateau.

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More than a meter of snow fell in parts on Monday alone.

"The snow clearance is more complicated than expected".

French emergency workers said the heavy snowfall and extreme avalanche risk, which is at a maximum of five, had prevented extensive searches on the ground for Mr Bromell. This is the highest it has been for nearly 10 years, BBC reports. "Zermatt is a winter destination, so of course we're familiar with this sort of situation".

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A man removes snow from his vehicle at the Sestriere skiing resort, in the Italian Alps.

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

Further to the north, snow and high winds prompted the cancellation of Tuesday's first men's World Cup downhill training run in Wengen, in the canton of Bern, organisers said.

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