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Swiss Tourists Evacuated Via Helicopter Due To Snow

Dorathy Gass

Lots of snow can be a ski-tourist’s dream, but it seems to have become somewhat of a nightmare for visitors who have travelled to Zermatt, Switzerland; located nearby the country’s famed Matterhorn city. Town officials have stated that helicopter ferry flights have resumed in efforts to evacuate tourists that are stranded in Zermatt. Heavy snowfall has resulted in closed rail lines and roads and there is now an increased risk around avalanches to occur in the area.

The tourism office for Zermatt stated initially that the town’s rail line would partially open on January 10th; however, that statement was changed with information that the line would stay closed until the afternoon (at minimum) that day, as crews in helicopters saw a new mass of snow form from an avalanche that occurred days before.

Travelweek reported that a Zermatt police officer, one who did not offer his name as he was not authorized to do so, stated that approximately 300-400 individuals were flown out one day prior, when an estimated 13,000 tourists to the town simply could not leave via rail or road. It is being reported by local authorities that the situation is calm, no lives are in danger, and many streets are cleared with cafes that are open.

In addition to evacuating tourists, helicopters were sent out to trigger avalanches in a controlled manner; allowing the release of build-up snow. There was over one meter (that is, 39 inches) of snow that gathered in areas of the region within the past day or so.

Avalanche forecaster for the Swiss Avalanche Research Institute SLF, Frank Techel, recently stated that about three to four meters (that equals out to approximately ten to thirteen feet) of snow has fallen over the Zermatt region so far in 2018, which he stated was an ‘extraordinary’ amount or this area, in such a small-time frame.