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Need a lift? Swiss canton to offer helicopter service in case of avalanche

In 2013, the Uri cantonal government voted against constructing a 1.5-kilometre long avalanche barrier along the road between Hospental and Realp. 

(Keystone)

Commuters in the mountain village of Realp in the central Swiss canton of Uri will be able to rely on helicopter service if they find their route cut off due to an avalanche.

The plan is an extension of a service that has been offered to residents in the canton’s neighbouring Meiental region since 2014.

Cantonal officials said Tuesday that road closures due to threat of avalanche present a significant problem for commuters in the 160-inhabitant municipality.

+ Avalanche control system wins mountain awardexternal link

The new plan will involve a pickup service via helicopter if both the local road and railway line are blocked. If the aircraft cannot be safely flown due to darkness or bad weather, travellers will be sheltered in the nearby towns of Wassen or Hospental.

The costs for these services will be assumed by Swiss taxpayers, as the cantonal construction authority will be footing the bill. Cantonal engineer Stefan Flury told the Swiss News Agency that demand is hard to estimate, but in Meiental, only one request of an overnight stay has been made since 2014.

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