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Briton missing as choppers ‘rescue’ tourists

With the avalanche risk extreme, chopper teams have also been setting explosive charges to help release the unstable snow buildup.

An estimated 300 to 400 people were flown out of the Swiss resort to nearby villages on Tuesday, according to a police official, and the private flights resumed again today.

Thirteen thousand people have been stuck in Zermatt – which sits a the foot of the iconic Matterhorn peak – for two days with roads and rail shut off.

Briton missing as choppers ‘rescue’ tourists
Briton missing as choppers ‘rescue’ tourists

Meanwhile, in France the search for a 39-year-old British skier who went missing in “terrible weather” on Sunday is continuing.

Helicpoters have also been flying in fresh linen for hotels
Image:Helicpoters have also been flying in fresh linen for hotels
British skier John Bromell has been missing since Sunday
Image:British skier John Bromell has been missing from Tignes in France since Sunday

The reopening of Zermatt’s rail line on Wednesday morning was delayed after pilots spotted a new snow mass left by an avalanche, but the town’s official website says officials are “confident to open the railway in the afternoon”.

Clearing the line is vital, as it allows people to reach the nearby village of Tasch from where they can get buses to the airports.

Zermatt's blocked train line is expected to reopen on Wednesday afternoon
Image:Zermatt’s blocked train line is expected to reopen on Wednesday afternoon
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Video:Trapped in the Alps amid snowstorm

“The persons in charge are working with high pressure,” a statement on Zermatt’s website said on Tuesday, as tourists – many who should have been back at work – settled in for another night.

Despite the massive amounts of snow, holidaymakers have not been able to get out onto the peaks because the avalanches risk is at its maximum.

Our trip out of #zermatt by helicopter #airzermattpic.twitter.com/tYP5LlWzSs

— Paul Black (@paulblack1) January 10, 2018

An “extraordinary” three to four meters of snow has been dumped on Zermatt already this year, said Frank Techel from the Swiss avalanche institute SLF.

Officials said the situation is calm in the town and that no lives are in danger.

Zermatt is near the iconic Matterhorn. File pic
Image:Zermatt is near the iconic Matterhorn. File pic

But heavy snow has hit across the region, and rescuers are still searching for Briton John Bromell, who went missing in the French resort of Tignes on Sunday.

The 39-year-old from Lincolnshire disappeared in bad weather and was last seen on the Paquis chairlift at 4.30pm.

Police said he was wearing a multi-coloured hat with a pompom and a checked jacket.

The hunt for Mr Bromell was initially hampered by the conditions but now a helicopter has joined the search.

Elsewhere, a skier was killed after avalanches in Aranouet in the French Pyenees, while an avalanche hit a five-storey building in Sestriere in Italy after two metres of snow fell there in 48 hours.

Broken branches and snow smashed their way into corridors and some apartments but the 29 people staying there escaped unharmed through the garage.

About 100 people in the town’s Olympic village complex were also evacuated over fears the roof could collapse because of the weight of snow.

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