Heavy snow leaves thousands of tourists stranded at Swiss ski resort

Bulldozers have been deployed in Zermatt to plough through snowdrifts

Just 100 people an hour are able to leave the Swiss resort of Zermatt while snow is also causing havoc in northern Italy

Zermatt. Аuthorities in Switzerland turned to dynamite on Wednesday to clear a path to the ski resort of Zermatt where more than 13,000 tourists are snowed in. However, stranded tourists will be unable to hit the slopes due to a high risk of avalanche.

A train packed with tourists has begun the descent from a snowbound town near Switzerland's Matterhorn as railway service resumed following a almost two-day suspension due to avalanche risks.

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

Tourists wait in line at the heliport of Air Zermatt for a flight by airlift into the valley to Raron, in Zermatt.

Despite the fact that they are stranded, the tourists in Zermatt are reported to be in good spirits and the tourist office describes the atmosphere as "relaxed and comfortable", The Guardian reports.

"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.

Authorities expect conditions to improve by Wednesday
Image Bulldozers have been deployed in Zermatt to plough through snowdrifts

"There are possible power breakdowns all over Zermatt", it said on Twitter, adding that the area was now inaccessible.

The move came as Switzerland's avalanche institute, SLF, lowered the avalanche risk from the highest level, five, to four earlier Wednesday.

Local officials said no lives are in danger and the situation is calm, with cafes open and many streets clear.

Mudslides, rock falls and the risk of avalanche caused the closure of several roads in the canton of Valais, according to Swiss media. Fortunately, the 29 people staying there were able to escape without injury by fleeing through the garage.

■ THE helicopter search for a British skier missing in Tignes in the French Alps since Sunday continued yesterday. Police about 100 people per hour were being airlifted to safety.

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