13000 tourists trapped in Swiss Alps

A reconnaissance flight is planned over the area to help determine the situation and how to proceed

Both the road and the railway line to Zermatt were closed after the avalanche risk was raised to five, commune president Romy Biner-Hauser told Valais paper Le Nouvelliste on Monday evening, however as yet the village has not had to be evacuated.

About 13 thousand tourists were captured by elements in the ski resort of Zermatt in the Alps.

An official with Air Zermatt told AFP that more than 600 people had been airlifted out by helicopter on Tuesday - at a cost of 200 Swiss francs ($204/170 euros) per passenger - with several hundred more flown out on Wednesday.

Local officials said no lives were ever in danger and the situation was calm, with cafes open and many streets walkable.

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"After nearly two days that Zermatt was cut off from the rest of the world, the destination is now reachable by train", it said in a statement.

A police official in Zermatt, who was not authorized to give his name, said an estimated 300 to 400 people flew out the day before, when some 13,000 tourists were unable to leave by road or rail. "It's a bit romantic", Imesch said, adding, "there is no panic".

A British skier remains missing in the French Alps ski resort of Tignes in Savoie, which is under red alert for avalanches.

The avalanche risk has been raised to the maximum level of five on the avalanche warning scale, the highest it's been for almost 10 years.

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Snowfall was over 1 meter (39 inches) over 24 hours in some remote areas of the region, according to the WSL Institute. At lower altitudes, heavy rains forced the evacuation of around 20 people from Eyholz village with the nearby hamlet of Mottec also emptied as a precaution, Swiss media reports said.

More than a meter of snow fell in parts on Monday alone.

But the 29 people staying there managed to escape unharmed through the garage.

More snow is forecast, but authorities are expecting conditions to improve in the coming days.

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