Swiss Alps traps 13,000 tourists

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In the Swiss resort of Zermatt, more than 13,000 tourists are trapped after extremely heavy snow cut them off from leaving. More than a meter (39 inches) of snow fell in parts on Monday alone with another meter falling yesterday.

French forecasters have described the snowfall as the kind that are only seen “once in every 30 years” with up to 1.8 meters (6 feet) of snow falling in 36 hours in parts of the Savoie area. Towns and villages across Switzerland, France, and Italy have been cut off due to the extreme winter weather.

Skiing out is not an option, because the avalanche risk is set at the rarely used maximum on a five-point scale – the highest it has been for almost 10 years. British skier, John Bromell, age 39, from Willingham by Stow near Lincoln, went missing on Sunday at the Tignes ski resort in France Alps. So far helicopter searches have been unsuccessful.

An avalanche hit a five-story building in Sestrieres in the Italian Alps, late on Monday. Fortunately, the 29 people staying there were able to escape without injury by fleeing through the garage.

Some tourists have been airlifted via helicopter from the area.

yahoo