Thousands of stranded tourists airlifted from Swis ski resort

ZURICH, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The Swiss Alpine resort of Zermatt airlifted guests by helicopter on Tuesday after heavy snow and a power cut stranded thousands of visitors.

An estimated 13,000 people were stuck in Zermatt after snow closed mountain lifts, ski runs, walking paths and train services to the village.

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With the onset of the wintery weather, avalanche danger in the rugged region of Wallis that includes Zermatt near the Italian border is now rated as "very great," the highest level, according to the Swiss Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research.

In the town of Visp, about 30 km (20 miles) down the valley from Zermatt, 20 people were evacuated from their homes after a mud- and snowslide sent debris into a portion of the village, Swiss broadcaster SRG reported on Tuesday. Nobody was injured.

However, the tourist office said there was no reason for concern in Zermatt. Town officials say the airlift service was just arranged for those wishing to leave.

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Tourists stranded in Swiss ski resort town
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Tourists stranded in Swiss ski resort town
People walk down a blocked street in Zermatt on January 9, 2018 after heavy snowfall and avalanches trapped more than 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations. The snow has blocked all roads and the train leading to the resort in the southern Swiss canton of Valais, which was also hit by some power outages. / AFP PHOTO / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers clear snow from a train tunnel in Zermatt on January 9, 2018 after heavy snowfall and avalanches trapped more than 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations. The snow has blocked all roads and the train leading to the resort in the southern Swiss canton of Valais, which was also hit by some power outages. / AFP PHOTO / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A young snowboarder leaps through the air in the small resort of Zinal, Swiss Alps on January 9, 2018, after the access road cut by heavy snowfall reopened. Heavy snowfall has cut off many villages and resorts across the Alps, trapping some 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations, officials said. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
A pedestrian walks past a snow covered car in the small resort of Zinal, Swiss Alps on January 9, 2018, after the access road cut by heavy snowfall reopened. Heavy snowfall has cut off many villages and resorts across the Alps, trapping some 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations, officials said. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Avalanche warning boards are on display at a closed area in the small resort of Zinal, Swiss Alps on January 9, 2018, after the access road cut by heavy snowfall reopened. Heavy snowfall has cut off many villages and resorts across the Alps, trapping some 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations, officials said. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
A young snowboarder carries his board in the small resort of Zinal, Swiss Alps on January 9, 2018, after the access road cut by heavy snowfall reopened. Heavy snowfall has cut off many villages and resorts across the Alps, trapping some 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations, officials said. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Avalanche warning boards are on display at a closed area in the small resort of Zinal, Swiss Alps on January 9, 2018, after the access road cut by heavy snowfall reopened. Heavy snowfall has cut off many villages and resorts across the Alps, trapping some 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations, officials said. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo shows large piles of snow beside the tourist office in Zermatt on January 9, 2018 after heavy snowfall and avalanches trapped more than 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations. The snow has blocked all roads and the train leading to the resort in the southern Swiss canton of Valais, which was also hit by some power outages. / AFP PHOTO / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A man stands next to large piles of snow beside the tourist office in Zermatt on January 9, 2018 after heavy snowfall and avalanches trapped more than 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations. The snow has blocked all roads and the train leading to the resort in the southern Swiss canton of Valais, which was also hit by some power outages. / AFP PHOTO / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers clear snow from a train tunnel in Zermatt on January 9, 2018 after heavy snowfall and avalanches trapped more than 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations. The snow has blocked all roads and the train leading to the resort in the southern Swiss canton of Valais, which was also hit by some power outages. / AFP PHOTO / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman walks along a cleared street in Zermatt on January 9, 2018 after heavy snowfall and avalanches trapped more than 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations. The snow has blocked all roads and the train leading to the resort in the southern Swiss canton of Valais, which was also hit by some power outages. / AFP PHOTO / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Emergency workers clear a street in Zermatt on January 9, 2018 after heavy snowfall and avalanches trapped more than 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations. The snow has blocked all roads and the train leading to the resort in the southern Swiss canton of Valais, which was also hit by some power outages. / AFP PHOTO / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Tourists ignore a road closed sign after heavy snowfall and avalanches trapped more than 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations, on January 9, 2018. The snow has blocked all roads and the train leading to the resort in the southern Swiss canton of Valais, which was also hit by some power outages. / AFP PHOTO / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Tourists have access to their hotel blocked after heavy snowfall and avalanches trapped more than 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations, on January 9, 2018. The snow has blocked all roads and the train leading to the resort in the southern Swiss canton of Valais, which was also hit by some power outages. / AFP PHOTO / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A pedestrian walks along a path in the small resort of Zinal, Swiss Alps on January 9, 2018, after the access road which was cut by heavy snowfall reopened. Heavy snowfall has cut off many villages and resorts across the Alps, trapping some 13,000 tourists at Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most popular ski stations, officials said. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
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"Power has returned, there's still the chance that it could go out ... but at this time things look good," a tourist office spokeswoman said. "The atmosphere in the village is relaxed and comfortable."

Helicopters flew for about two hours on Tuesday afternoon, she said.

Guests seeking to leave the car-free village at the foot of the Matterhorn were flown to Taesch, about 5 km (3 miles) away.

From there, Zermatt had enlisted buses in place of rail service to take people further down the valley following the opening of the road. Helicopters were also used to transport people seeking to reach Zermatt, officials said.

Swiss mountain communities have been in the spotlight for geological risks since August, when the side of a mountain collapsed in the southern canton of Grisons, killing eight hikers. Their bodies have not been found.

(Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Alison Williams)

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