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Switzerland dons a white coat

Switzerland: more like winter than spring Keystone

Unseasonal heavy snowfall blanketed several parts of Switzerland on Saturday, disrupting transport and leading to fears of avalanches in the Alps. Meteorologists reported a metre of new snow in the mountains and warned that more was on its way.

The poor weather conditions triggered a number of traffic accidents across the country, causing injuries but no deaths. Up to 10 centimetres of fresh snow fell in low-lying areas.

German parts of the country, including Zurich, the Bernese Oberland and canton Graunbünden were particularly badly hit. A number of roads were closed, and drivers crossing some mountain passes were advised to put on snow chains.

About 30 flights had to be cancelled at Zurich-Kloten airport because of the weather conditions.

Traffic conditions were worsened by the return of Easter holidaymakers from the southern canton of Ticino. There was a 10 kilometre traffic jam at the Gotthard tunnel.

Officials warned of the increased threat of avalanches in the Alps. A number of explosions were set off to clear potentially dangerous overhangs.

Meteorologists warned that further snow was to be expected. Although snowfalls in April are not uncommon, the quantity has been unusually large this year.

Switzerland has suffered from extremely poor weather in the early part of Spring. March was marked by almost continuous rainfall.

According to Switzerland’s Association of Vegetable Producers, at least a quarter of crops have been destroyed by the poor weather, leading to a loss of an estimated SFr80 million.

As a result, more crops are likely to be imported, but the association says prices are not expected to rise.

The bad weather has also hit the flower industry, with business down by 20 per cent. Traders say people are delaying buying flowers for their balconies and gardens until the weather improves.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR