Cars swept away by Swiss alpine pass avalanche

The injured trio were airlifted to local hospitals. Keystone

Three people have been hurt after an avalanche swept away two cars attempting to cross an alpine pass in Switzerland on Sunday. All three were taken to hospital where their condition is described as non-life threatening.

This content was published on May 20, 2018 - 18:05

The incident took place at around 2pm on the Klausen Pass that connects cantons Uri and Glarus in central Switzerland. At nearly 2,000 meters high, the mountain pass is still affected by snow and had only opened for road traffic earlier in the week.

Canton Uri police report that the avalanche struck 200 metres from the top of the pass, sweeping about 100 metres down the road. The injured car occupants were airlifted to hospital and a fourth passenger escaped from the incident unhurt.

Unusually high snowfall in the winter has resulted in several avalanches in Switzerland, including some fatalities at ski resorts. Four skiers were killed in canton Valais in March during one of the worst incidents.

Up until April 30, a total of 26 people – all involved in winter sports – died in 19 separate avalanche incidents last winter, according to the Swiss Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research. The average death toll is 21. 

Overall, some 250 “destructive avalanches causing property damage or personal injury” were reported.

In January, thousands of tourists were cut off for days in the popular resort of Zermatt while Andermatt and Saas-Fee were also affected by avalanches. The avalanche risk alert reached its highest level several times in the Swiss Alps over the winter.

Police have now closed the Klausen Pass until further notice as they assess the risk of further avalanches.

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