Seven people have lost their lives due to heavy snow fall in the Alps and a high risk avalanche warning has been announced.
Two German skiers lost their lives in an avalanche in the Vorarlberg mountains, Austria, and another avalanche killed a young women in Bavaria’s Teisenberg mountains.
A fourth skier died near Salzburg and two climbers died in the Italian alps. A skier also died in Bavaria after a tree collapsed.
Following the extreme weather, there have been reports of several missing people and specialist rescue teams are currently searching the Alps.
Parts of Germany, Austria and Switzerland have been experiencing heavy snowfall over the past few days and hundreds of flights have been cancelled. As more snow is expected to fall over the coming days, up to 40cm has been forecast, some rail services have been suspended and customers that are due to travel to or from the affected areas are being asked to check with their travel company before heading to the station or airport.
Those who are due to travel to the country, and are no longer able to due to cancelled flights, should speak to their airline directly. The airline has a duty of care to re-book any cancelled flights or offer a full refund of any unused tickets. As adverse weather is classed as an extra-ordinary circumstance, customers should not expect to claim compensation from the airline.
If tourists are already abroad and unable to travel home, it is the airlines responsibility to provide appropriate accommodation until a flight can be rescheduled.
In the event that tourists are unable to reach their holiday destination due to the heavy snowfall, they should speak directly to their tour operator. If the trip has been booked independently, it is advised customers check their travel insurance for either ‘Force Majeure’, ‘cancellation for any cause’ or ‘cancellation for any reason which you can not have been expected to foresee or avoid’.
Damage to the power lines, caused by the snowfall, left over 14,000 people in northern Austria without any electricity. Several roads have also been closed across Salzburg.
Officials are warning residents and tourists to be vigilant as more avalanches can be triggered at any moment.