An avalanche is said to have swept away several people in Zermatt, Switzerland, on Monday. The rescue workers initiated a search, as the police in the canton of Valais announced on the short message service X. The avalanche happened shortly after 2 p.m. on Monday.

The Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (WLF) warned of a high risk of avalanches in the morning. “Very large and occasionally extremely large spontaneous avalanches are to be expected,” it said. There was also a great danger of avalanches in Tyrol in Austria and in South Tyrol.

The reason is a lot of fresh snow and sometimes hurricane-force winds over the past few days. The strong wind caused large accumulations of drifting snow, which are particularly prone to triggering, as was stated in all descriptions of the situation. Spontaneous avalanches at altitude could also sweep away wet old snow at medium altitudes.

Avalanche experts monitored the situation in the ski areas in order to close ski slopes at risk. Ski tourers who are outside the marked pistes are at greater risk. In Switzerland, 14 people died in twelve avalanche accidents in the winter of 2023/24 by the end of March.