Thousands of tourists ended the last Christmas holiday in the Alps on Sunday being evacuated. This included visitors to the famous glacier Matterhorn in Switzerland. Airports and trains experienced mass cancellations.
Heavier than usual snowfalls in the Alps have cut off towns in higher elevations and increased the threat posed by avalanches. Thousands of winter holiday-makers are trapped in some of the mountain range’s most popular ski resorts in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
Authorities warned on Sunday of a high risk of avalanches after a snowstorm blanketed Central Europe Saturday, killing at least two people and trapping hundreds of tourists in alpine villages cut off by the snow.
One person was killed Saturday when a vehicle skidded on a slick road near the town of Bad Toelz and struck another vehicle. A 19-year-old man later died of injuries sustained in the collision. Four others were injured in the crash.
A 20-year-old woman was killed Saturday in an avalanche in Germany. The woman was part of a tour group visiting Teisenberg mountain (elevation 4,373 feet) when the avalanche occurred. No one else was injured and no other details have been released.
In Austria, public broadcaster ORF reported that a 26-year-old man died Sunday after being struck by an avalanche while skiing near the town of Schoppernau.
About 600 residents and tourists became cut off in villages in the Styria region of Austria when roadways became impassable. Other villages in the Alps have also been cut off by snow-blocked roadways.
Hundreds of passengers were stuck for hours on a train early Sunday after a snow-laden tree crashed onto the tracks near Kitzbuehel, Austria.
The small village of St. Johann in Austria was evacuated because authorities feared strong winds could trigger a large avalanche.
More than 200 flights were canceled Saturday in Munich, Germany, according to Flight Aware. Other airports impacted include Innsbruck and Zurich, in Austria. Trains were also canceled in the region.