Home / NEWS / British skier missing amid Alps chaos as airlifts begin moving some of the 13,000 tourists trapped in Zermatt by heavy snowfall

British skier missing amid Alps chaos as airlifts begin moving some of the 13,000 tourists trapped in Zermatt by heavy snowfall

Helicopters Tuesday began airlifts from Zermatt, an exclusive Swiss ski resort, where about 13,000 tourists were stranded by heavy snowfall, as fears grew for a British snowboarder missing in the French Alps.

An aerial search failed to locate John Bromell, 39, from Willingham by Stow, Lincs, who was last seen on Sunday at the resort of Tignes.

He had been on the slopes with family during the day but returned alone “for one last run” despite worsening weather.

French emergency workers said the snowfall and extreme avalanche risk had prevented extensive searches on the ground for the missing Briton.

His disappearance follows the death of Owen Lewis, 22, from Coventry, whose frozen body was found after he went missing from Risoul, another resort in the French Alps, last Tuesday.

 Tourists wait in line at the heliport of Air Zermatt for a flight by airlift into the valley to Raron

Credit:
 DOMINIC STEINMANN/Keystone

After being trapped in Zermatt for two days, about 100 holidaymakers were being taken every hour to the nearby village of Täsch, a three-minute flight, police said. They continued their journeys by bus.

Zermatt was packed to capacity but all ski slopes, hiking paths and cable cars around the resort remained closed yesterday. People were urged to stay indoors to allow the authorities to clear snow and trigger controlled avalanches to ensure that the slopes are safe.

A spokesman for the resort near the Matterhorn mountain, which straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy, said electricity had been restored in the village after a power cut.

“Everything is back to normal and the situation is under control,” Janine Imesch said, adding that many people were indulging in après-ski activities.

Slopes are expected to reopen Wednesday as the weather starts to improve. The avalanche risk at Zermatt and other Swiss resorts in the south-western Valais region remained at the maximum level of 5, and also at many resorts in the French Alps including Tignes.

The French ski resort of Tignes blanketed in snow.

Credit:
AFP

Romy Biner-Hauser, the president of Valais region, said residents in exposed locations had been advised to keep their window shutters closed. “The situation is being monitored every half-hour and if things change, we will take the necessary measures,” he said.

Police have blocked off roads due to the risk of an avalanche

Credit:
AFP

Areas higher than 4,600ft have seen well over 3ft of snowfall in recent days and more is forecast. Parts of the French Alps have had 6ft in the past 48 hours, the heaviest fall in 30 years.

An avalanche hit the resort of Les Houches, near Chamonix, yesterday. It damaged chalets and sent trees crashing into cars, but no casualties were reported. In the Italian Alps, up to 10,000 tourists and locals were cut off by avalanches and deep snow.

A snow plough in action near Val d’Isere in the French Alps.

Credit:
AFP

All 77 slopes at Tignes were closed on Monday but about 15 reopened yesterday afternoon as the weather showed signs of improving.

A British tourist who spent months cycling across Europe is missing in the southern Israeli desert and has not been seen for seven weeks, it has emerged. Oliver McAfee, 29, from Essex, was due to fly home on Dec 1. Matthew McAfee, 32, his brother, said the family was “devastated” and could do little but wait for news from Israel.

Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/09/british-skier-missing-french-italian-alps-hit-avalanches-heavy/

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