Thousands of British holidaymakers face travel chaos in Austria today after the country experienced the heaviest snowfalls in a century and was bracing for another round of storms.
Three metres of snow fell in the space of 48 hours in some parts of the country and more than a metre is forecast to fall today and tomorrow. Yesterday the army was drafted in to help with the clear-up and to deliver supplies to towns and villages that were cut off.
Skiers arriving in — or trying to leave — the Alps were warned to expect delays and impassable roads. Scores of ski resorts across Austria and Switzerland were either closed, unreachable, or had very limited slopes open. Southern and eastern Germany also suffered heavy snowfalls.
Authorities were also warning of avalanches after “once in a century” snowfalls that covered vast areas of the country. At least 19 people have been killed in weather-related accidents in Europe this week, many of them by avalanches. Max Meyer, a 16-year-old Australian, became the latest victim of the extreme weather when he was caught in an avalanche and killed in front of his parents in St Anton.
In Munich a nine-year-old boy was crushed to death when a snow-laden tree collapsed on him. Two skiers were killed in an avalanche in Bulgaria and in northeast Austria two hikers were missing, presumed dead.