Europe

Zermatt: Snow cuts off Swiss ski resort for second time in 2018

Helicopter airlift from Täsch to Zermatt, Switzerland, 21 January 2018 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Only helicopters can reach Zermatt as snowdrifts block access to the resort

Heavy snow has cut off the Swiss ski resorts of Zermatt and Andermatt, leaving thousands of people stranded.

Zermatt is snowed-in for the second time this month, as is nearby Cervinia, an Italian resort below the Matterhorn.

Avalanche warnings are at maximum - level five - so road and rail traffic has stopped in many parts of the Alps.

In Austria's Tyrol, snow has cut links to the resorts of St Anton and Ischgl. Ski lifts have stopped in many resorts, including Chamonix in France.

About 10,000 people are reported to be stranded in Austria's Paznauntal area, which includes the resorts of Ischgl and Galtür.

In Bavaria, southern Germany, a man died and several were injured in avalanches.

In the Chamonix area below Mont Blanc the avalanche risk is at maximum level and most roads from there to Switzerland are closed. About 1,000 people in danger zones were advised to stay at home.

Some parts of the Swiss Alps have had three metres (9.9ft) of fresh snow in just one week - a level last reached in 1999.

Helicopter services are in high demand in Zermatt as some tourists try to get airlifted out. Some 9,000 people are stranded there.

Some residents were also evacuated in the Swiss town of Davos, where world and business leaders are gathering for the World Economic Forum this week.

Officials advised people living in about 30 homes to find somewhere safer to spend the night on Sunday.

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Media captionHeavy snow and high winds have already caused headaches for ski resorts this year

More snow was forecast on Monday, but the authorities say they do not expect it to disrupt the exclusive talks in Davos, which are due to include the likes of US President Donald Trump and France's Emmanuel Macron.

The avalanche risk is at level five in a wide swathe across Switzerland, including Valais canton, according to the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research.

Elsewhere there are warnings about the increased risk of floods and landslides.

Eight men have been trapped by rising waters in Switzerland's Hölloch cave since Sunday morning.

Rescuers have now reached them and their lives are not thought to be in danger, but it is unclear when they will be able to escape, according to Swiss media.

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