150 evacuated in Italy after avalanche, snow blankets Alps

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Milan: Four helicopters evacuated 150 people trapped in a four-star Italy hotel and other remote structures on Wednesday after an avalanche, authorities said as heavy snow caused disruption across the Alps.

The Langtauferer Hotel, located near the Austrian border at 1,870 meters above sea level, was not directly hit by the overnight avalanche, but the area was at extreme risk for more, Katia Squeo with the civil protection agency in Bolzano, Italy said.

“The electricity was restored and the guests didn’t want to go, so the mayor ordered the evacuation,” Squeo said. “The avalanche risk is still present.” The evacuation took place under clear conditions, with each helicopter ferrying seven people at a time to a school gymnasium in nearby San Valentino, where they were fed.

The evacuees included 75 guests and hotel workers, local residents and tourists staying in other accommodations. The whole village was cut off from the nearest major road, some 20 kilometers away, by the heavy snowfall and avalanche risk.

A structure at a closed educational facility was damaged in one avalanche, while the second story of a house was destroyed in another, civil protection authorities said. The family was on the first floor and no one was hurt.

The whole northern crest of the Alps bordering Austria was under the highest avalanche risk following an extraordinary snowfall of up to two meters beating record levels dating to the early 1980s in some places, officials said.

The Langtauferer hotel boasts views of a 3,700-meter summit and advertises itself as being ideal for skiers, who can start their runs right outside the hotel door. Martina Doene, the hotel’s manager, said the evacuees remained calm.

The civil protection agency said teams also were working to open roads to Val Senales, where thousands of tourists and residents had been isolated since Monday above Merano. The town itself was protected by avalanche barriers and they were at no immediate risk, Squeo said. Heavy snow has created dangerous conditions and disrupted transport across the Alps.livemint