Heavy snowfall leaves 13000 tourists stranded in Swiss Alps

There are currently'around 13,000 tourists at Zermatt' while the station website warned that'arrivals and departures are not possible at the moment

Villages across Switzerland, France and Italy have all been affected.

The town of Zermatt at the base of the Matterhorn on a more peaceful evening.

Hundreds of tourists have been airlifted from the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt, which is one of several resorts in the Alps to have been closed due to heavy snowfall over the past few days.

It said teams were working "as a matter of urgency" to try to open roads to Zermatt.

Zermatt's tourism office said trains to the nearby village of Taesch resumed at 5:15 pm (1615 GMT) despite efforts to get the service up and running in the morning. Electricity in the village has now been restored after the power had been cut earlier, but the resort continues to warn guests of potential power failures and ski slopes, hiking paths and cable cars around the village remained closed.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the so-called air bridge could transport about 100 people an hour, conditions permitting.

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Switzerland's Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research said on Tuesday afternoon (local time) that at least 80 centimetres of snow had dropped on the Zermatt area over the past 24 hours, raising the avalanche risk to a maximum level of five on an avalanche-warning scale.

"We can't ski or go walking, but it's calm, a bit romantic", Janine Imesch, a spokesperson for the Zermatt area, told the media.

Meanwhile in the Italian Alpine resort of Sestriere, where more than six feet of snow fell in 48 hours, a five-storey apartment building was hit by an avalanche on Monday night. None of the 29 people staying in the resort were injured.

The Zermatt tourism office said Wednesday: "After being cut off for nearly two days, Zermatt can now be accessed by train again".

In France, police told AFP news agency they were searching for a British skier who went missing near the resort of Tignes.

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