MATTERHORN, Switzerland - Amid heavy snowing and an exceptional risk of avalanches, thousands of tourists were stranded in Switzerland.
On Monday, over a metre (39in) of snow fell in parts and a metre more is forecast to fall on Tuesday.
The Swiss ski resort of Zermatt, which houses the famous Matterhorn mountain was evacuated on Tuesday.
Helicopters were seen evacuating stranded holidaymakers from the upmarket resort after about 13,000 tourists were stranded in the mountain village for two days.
The resort said on its website that ski slopes, hiking paths and cable cars around the village remained closed.
The heavy snow in the Alps cut off towns and villages and slopes were closed because of the danger of avalanches.
Due to the poor weather conditions, several schools in the region remained closed and some houses were evacuated.
The decision to cut off access to the resort was made after the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research raised the avalanche risk level to five, which is the maximum level.
The institute warned on its website, "Numerous large and, in many cases, very large natural dry avalanches are to be expected as a result of fresh snow and strong winds. Without question, it is inadvisable to engage in ski touring, freeriding and snowshoe hiking outside marked and open pistes."
Meanwhile, according to the police, an airlift was taking about 100 people an hour who urgently needed to leave Zermatt to the nearby village of Täsch.
In Täsch, authorities noted that rail replacement buses were made available for their onward journey.
People in the area were advised to follow instructions and stay at home so as not to hamper the ongoing clear-up operation.
A resort spokeswoman, Janine Imesch, said the precautions were sensible and there was no immediate risk to “around 13,000 tourists” who were stuck there.
The spokeswoman added that electricity in the village had now been restored after an earlier power cut.