Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Webcam captures the moment powerful avalanche strikes in the Swiss Alps

Webcam captures the moment powerful avalanche strikes in the Swiss Alps

Helicopter teams were also deploying to trigger controlled avalanches to release snow buildup after more than 1 meter (39 inches) of snow fell in some parts of the region in 24 hours.

Approximately 13,000 tourists are trapped at the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt without electricity due to heavy snowfall and the threat of avalanches, The Guardian reported.

Local officials said no lives were ever in danger and the situation was calm, with cafes open and many streets walkable.

Blizzards have also plagued French areas of the Alps with workers forced to cut through a 22ft wall of snow to clear a road in the south-east of the country.

Snowfalls, described by French meteorologists as the heaviest in decades, hit Alps villages in Switzerland, France and Italy.

Officials from the town of Zermatt said roads were closed and trains services halted because of the snowy conditions and power outtages.

Zermatt is home to some 5,500 inhabitants and has the capacity to accommodate 13,400 tourists spread across hotels and rental apartments. An estimated 13,000 people were stuck after snow closed mountain lifts, ski runs, walking paths and train services to the village.

Swiss officials say despite the elevated avalanche risk, there's nothing to worry about.

There are now "around 13,000 tourists at Zermatt", she said, while the station website warned that "arrivals and departures are not possible at the moment" The main access road has been closed since early Monday, while the train was halted on Monday evening, she said.

For most of the way the only way in or out was by helicopter airlift, with many tourists choosing to pay 70 Swiss francs (£50) for a seat on a flight.

The Zermatt tourism office initially said a rail line from the town was due to partially reopen Wednesday. DOMINIC STEINMANN, KEYSTONE, via EPA-EFE A truck carries the snow from the roads in Zermatt, Switzerland, on January 9, 2018.

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