"An airlift has been set up and is in operation from 3 p.m.to 5 p.m. (departure from Air Zermatt base)".
Tourists visiting the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt were stranded at the resort for two days due to heavy recent snowfall and an elevated risk of avalanches. It also said officials are working to reopen the railways.
Local officials said no lives were ever in danger and the situation was calm, with cafes open and many streets walkable. The only way out previously was via helicopter with around 100 people airlifted out every hour.
Switzerland's WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research said Tuesday afternoon that at least 80 centimetres (31.5 inches) of snow had dropped on the Zermatt area over the last 24 hours, raising the avalanche risk to a maximum level of five on an avalanche-warning scale.
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Thousands of tourists came to the Zermatt ski resort in Switzerland for a winter adventure, and that's exactly what they got.
"There are about 13,000 tourists at the moment that are spending the holiday here", Janine Imesch, a spokesperson for Zermatt, told NBC News. Due to heavy snowfall and rain shower Mateusz Bocian, Keystone, via AP Tourists wait in line at the heliport of Air Zermatt for a flight by airlift into the valley to Raron, in Zermatt, Switzerland, on January 9, 2018.
Meanwhile in the Italian Alpine resort of Sestriere, where more than six feet of snow fell in 48 hours, a five-storey apartment building was hit by an avalanche on Monday night. Fortunately, the 29 people staying there were able to escape without injury by fleeing through the garage.
"Numerous large and, in many cases, very large natural dry avalanches are to be expected as a effect of fresh snow and strong wind", a statement from the Swiss Federal Institute of Forest, Snow and Landscape Research said.