Avalanche hits hotel amid snow-related deaths across Europe

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Neil Connery

Three people in Switzerland have been injured after an avalanche hit a hotel, while across Europe, at least 20 people have died as freezing weather and heavy snow hits the continent.

A separate avalanche in Bulgaria killed two snowboarders in the Pirin Mountains on Friday.

The Bulgarian Red Cross alleged the two triggered the avalanche that killed them after ignoring warnings and weather alerts.

In eastern Switzerland, police said three people were slightly hurt when an avalanche hit a hotel at Schwaegalp on Thursday afternoon.

In Germany, the 48-year-old driver of a snow plough died on Friday after his vehicle toppled into an icy river.

A man shovels snow off the roof of his house in Bosnia. Credit: AP

Albania’s Energy Ministry said a power company employee suffered a fatal heart attack while repairing damaged supply lines.

About 2,000 soldiers and other emergency workers in Albania were assigned to help people trapped by snow and to clear roads to restore access to rural areas.

Several municipalities in southwest Serbia have introduced emergency measures, warning of snow piling up on the roads and sealing off mountain villages, Serbian state TV reported on Friday.

Most schools in the area closed down and 10 people had to be rescued from their homes.

Strong winds complicated the conditions for emergency crews.

In neighbouring Montenegro, meteorologist Dragan Buric said the first 10 days of January have been among the coldest in the country in decades.

“We have snow in January in the capital city (Podgorica) for the first time in nine years,” Mr Buric told Montenegrin state TV.

In the central Bosnian municipality of Kladanj, snow disrupted power supplies and cut phone lines.

Zijad Vejzovic, from the local civil protection agency, said authorities declared an emergency.

People clear a roof from snow in Lofer in the Austrian province of Salzburg. Credit: AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson

In Germany and Austria, where heavy snow caused fatal avalanches and major disruptions in the past few days, the situation on Friday was somewhat calmer.

Still, airlines cancelled around 120 flights at Frankfurt Airport and 90 at Munich Airport on Friday because of concerns about snow, German news agency DPA reported.

In the eastern German city of Chemnitz, all planned burials at the municipal cemetery have been called off until Monday due to the snow.

Austrian military helicopters on Friday flew a group of 66 German teenagers out of a mountain guest house where they had been stuck for several days.

In Salzburg, all parks, public gardens, play areas and cemeteries were closed on Friday because of the danger of trees falling under the weight of snow.