13,000 trapped at Swiss ski station

A man takes in the rare sight of snow on the sand dunes in Algeria on Sunday, when residents of the northern town of Ain Sefra enjoyed sliding down them, before the snow melted away.
A man takes in the rare sight of snow on the sand dunes in Algeria on Sunday, when residents of the northern town of Ain Sefra enjoyed sliding down them, before the snow melted away.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

GENEVA/DHAKA • Heavy snowfall has trapped 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations, the Alpine resort said yesterday.

The snow has blocked all roads and the train leading to the resort in the southern Swiss canton of Valais, whose Simplon region was hit by 2m of snow in 24 hours, station head Janine Imesch said.

There are currently "around 13,000 tourists at Zermatt," she said, while the station website warned that "arrivals and departures are not possible." The main access road has been closed since early Monday, while the train was halted that evening, she said.

The stranded tourists will not be able to ski for the time being, due to the high risk of avalanches.

Meanwhile on the usually sun-kissed sand dunes of the Sahara desert, a rare blanket of snow allowed Algerians the chance to try out some icy sliding.

With temperatures touching 1 deg C, residents in the northern town of Ain Sefra enjoyed sliding down the dunes on Sunday morning, before the snow melted away.

In subtropical Bangladesh, temperatures have hit a 70-year low, plunging to a frigid 2.6 deg C in some parts on Monday.

One local broadcaster reported that at least nine people had died from exposure, including six in one of the coldest locations in the northern district of Kurigram.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2018, with the headline '13,000 trapped at Swiss ski station'. Print Edition | Subscribe