A heavy snowstorm cut off access to St. Antonio, a town in Switzerland's mountainous area Monday, stranding many tourists and local residents.
Over the past week, the snowfall, which locals say has been the heaviest in more than three decades, prompted authorities to issue avalanche alerts for many towns including St. Antonio, located about 32 kilometres from the Swiss resort of Davos.
Blizzard conditions have blocked roads and rail lines, completely cutting off access to the town. Snow accumulation reportedly reached almost one metre deep on Monday after another night of flurries.
Snow also blocked a road leading to a hilltop hotel, trapping all the guests inside. John, a hotel employee who has lived in Switzerland for 35 years, said he "never saw so much snow like today and the past week." He then pointed out to reporters a snow-covered wall that was built to protect the hotel from avalanches.
A tourist named Sabina and her husband who hail from northern Switzerland's Zurich were among those stranded in the hotel after the local police warned them to stay put until the avalanche alert is lifted. "The police tell us that it's forbidden to leave the house. You have to stay inside, and no roads. And we have no circulation any more. We have no bus. We have no possibilities to go with the train. All the traffic is closed. Nothing goes," said Sabrina.
A thick blanket of snow has reportedly trapped nearby 1,000 people inside the country's mountainous region, and forced many residents living in avalanche prone areas to evacuate.
Meanwhile, enormous snowbanks have blocked not only roads but also the railway in Davos which is the venue for the 2018 World Economic Forum (WEF). The summit is scheduled to open on Tuesday with heads of state and business leaders from across the world in attendance.
The WEF agenda, however, will not be affected by the winter weather, according to reports.