After two-day halt, trains to snowbound Swiss town of Zermatt resume

UPDATED 13,000 tourists stranded in Zermatt village cut off as avalanche risk raised to max

Skiing is not possible as slopes are closed because of the risk of avalanches.More than a metre (39in) of snow fell in parts on Monday alone. Local authorities are working under "high pressure" to resolve the situation, according to Zermatt's official website.

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

For now, the only way out for the almost 13,000 tourists in Zermatt is a three-minute helicopter transport to the village of Taesch, and only a handful have elected to leave.

The Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn train, with a capacity for 250 people, eased out of Zermatt station after teams cleared huge snowdrifts from the more than a meter (39 inches) of snow that blanketed the region over a one-day period, coating railways and roads.

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Luckily, there is no risk of heavy snowfall at the Matterhorn in Disneyland for the foreseeable future. "It's a bit romantic", resort spokesperson Janine Imesch said. The Zermatt police department official said the air bridge would be provided to tourists requesting an exit by the 3-minute helicopter flight from the town at the foot of the Alpine peak down to the nearby village of Taesch.

On the French side, where Meteo France said Tuesday the avalanche threat has diminished, rescuers were able to start looking for a British skier missing for the past two days, with a helicopter searching the area where a signal from his mobile phone was last picked up. The atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable. "We haven't seen such a snow in some 30 years", said Gabriel Blanc, mayor of Bonneval-sur-Arc in Savoie.

Several villages in southern Switzerland, including the ski resort of Zermatt, were cut off from the outside world on Tuesday after extreme weather conditions raised the avalanche risk to the maximum level.

Authorities said conditions were expected to improve Wednesday.

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