Alpine snow leaves thousands of tourists stranded in Switzerland

Alpine snow leaves thousands of tourists stranded in Switzerland

The rail line from the town of Zermatt is also due to partially reopen later Wednesday.

Helicopters are transporting people to and from the mountain, though no evacuation order has been announced.

Fresh snowfall Monday created an avalanche hazard leaving roughly 13,000 tourists stranded in Zermatt, Switzerland, for the second day in a row Tuesday.

Helicopter teams were also deploying to trigger controlled avalanches to release snow buildup after more than 1 meter (39 inches) of snow fell in some parts of the region in 24 hours.

But an avalanche risk at its highest level means the stranded tourists will not be able to take advantage of the abundant snow for the time being.

Several other ski resorts across Switzerland, France and Italy are also closed due to the extreme avalanche risk caused by the the highest snowfall the Alps has experienced for nearly 10 years.

"There is nothing to panic about, everything is fine", Janine Imesch of the Zermatt tourism office told CBS News on Tuesday.

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The heavy snowfall has caused casualties across the region.

Romy Biner, the head of the Zermatt town council, told SRF the airlift was for guests who urgently needed to leave and to bring in supplies.

"No one can go skiing or hiking, but it's quiet, a little bit romantic", said Imesch. Swiss authorities have closed ski slopes, hiking trails, cable cars, roads and train service into the town of Zermatt amid a heightened risk of avalanches, stranding some 13,000 tourists in the town.

An avalanche hit a five-storey building in Sestrieres, in the Italian Alps, late on Monday, but the 29 people staying in the building escaped without injury, fleeing through the garage.

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

Meanwhile there was still no sign of the British snowboarder John Bromell who went missing in France just before the massive snowfall which covered the Alps.

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