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BREAKING NEWS

Zermatt: 13,000 stranded as high risk of avalanche threatens ski resort

The Swiss resort has been fully closed to traffic in and out since Monday evening after authorities raised the avalanche risk to the maximum level of five.

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Zermatt: 13,000 stranded as high risk of avalanche threatens ski resort

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Note: an updated version of this story is available here taking account of Tuesday's airlift.

Around 13,000 people have been left stranded for a second day in the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt. Officials warn “numerous spontaneous avalanches of a large, and often very large, scale” are expected after the town was hit with fresh snow and strong winds.

The resort’s website also warns of a ‘power breakdown all over’ the municipality. Roads in and out of the region have been closed since Monday morning (January 8) and train services cancelled from that evening. All hiking and skiing has ground to a halt.

The closure of the resort was prompted by the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research’s move to raise the avalanche risk level to the maximum level of five. It said fresh snowfall on Monday covered layers of old snow, creating the perfect environment for avalanches.

However, operators in the resort, which lies around 120 kilometres east of Geneva, said there was no immediate threat to guests and described the measures as preventative and sensible under the circumstances.

Spokeswoman Janine Imesch told AFP the resort was close to its maximum capacity. Estimates suggest the resident population is around 5,500.