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Fresh snow and strong winds fueled an extreme avalanche risk near the Matterhorn mountain in Switzerland

Jennifer Calfas
January 09, 2018

About 13,000 tourists are trapped at a ski resort with sporadic power outages near the Matterhorn mountain in Switzerland, after the avalanche risk was raised to its highest level.

All hiking paths, cable cars, ski slopes, roads and train service at the Zermatt Matterhorn, a popular Swiss ski resort near the famed mountain, are closed as a result of the heightened risk, the resort said Tuesday, as snow and wind have created ample conditions for avalanches.

"Numerous large and, in many cases, very large natural dry avalanches are to be expected as a consequence of fresh snow and strong wind," a statement from the Swiss Federal Institute of Forest, Snow and Landscape Research said. 

An advisory posted on the Zermatt Matterhorn's website warned of "possible power breakdowns all over Zermatt" and advised visitors and residents "to stay at home."

"Without question, it is inadvisable to engage in ski touring, freeriding and snowshoe hiking outside marked and open pistes," the institute warned.

Janine Imesch of the Zermatt tourism office said the thousands of tourists stuck at the resort face no immediate risk.

“No one can go skiing or hiking, but it’s quiet, a little bit romantic,”  Imesch told the Guardian. “Everything is fine. There is no panic.”

The avalanche risk will decrease later this week, the group added, though snow sport activities in the area could still trigger them Wednesday. 

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