Avalanche crashes into hotel in eastern Switzerland – from The Local Switzerland
Three people received minor injuries when a hotel in eastern Switzerland was hit by an avalanche on Thursday, police in the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden have said, adding that a search for people who may still be missing has been called off for the night before of heavy snowfall and the risk of further avalanches.
The avalanche hit the restaurant of the Hotel Säntis in Schwägalp in the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden.
One eyewitness told regional daily St Galler Tagblatt that he and his wife had arrived at the hotel around 3pm and had gone to the restaurant area to have a beer and read the newspapers.
The couple took a seat by the window and then saw snow swirling around. At first the man thought snow was falling from the roof.
“Then there was a huge noise and snow piled into the back of the restaurant,” he said.
The man, who preferred to remain anonymous, said there were only a few people in the restaurant at the time the avalanche struck. He said one person had suffered an arm injury and that at least one person needed to be dug out of the snow.
The Hotel Säntis is at the foot of the mountain of the Säntis mountain – the highest peak in eastern Switzerland’s Alpstein massif.
Snowy conditions in the eastern Swiss canton on St Gallen have caused 45 accidents since Wednesday, St Gallen cantonal police said.
In the last 72 hours, between 50 and 90 centimetres of new snow has fallen in the Alps in eastern Switzerland and in northern Graubünden, according to the SRF Meteo.
More info: The Local Switzerland
Report from Appenzell Ausserrhoden:
On the Schwägalp, community Hundwil, on Thursday afternoon, January 10, 2019, an avalanche has gone down. Several injured persons. Vehicles and parts of the restaurant are spilled by snow.
On Thursday, shortly after 16.30 clock, went to the cantonal emergency call center of the cantonal police Appenzell Ausserrhoden the message about an avalanche decline on the Schwägalp. Immediately forces were mobilized. Based on the first findings, an avalanche on the slope opposite the Hotel Säntis on the Schwägalp has dissolved and spilled several cars and also parts of the restaurant. Several people were injured. About the number and type of injuries can not be specified. The injured persons are medically and psychologically cared for. Rescue and salvage work focuses on rescuing and finding potential missing persons.
1st update, 7:30 pm
The avalanche on Schwägalp has come down in the area of Hotel Säntis. The avalanche cone has a width of about 300 meters and has also recorded the staff house (Girenspitz) and the building of the alp cheese dairy. Currently, three people have suffered minor injuries. They are cared for by the rescue service. Rescue and salvage work continues to focus on finding potential missing persons. In addition to technical equipment, avalanche dogs are also used.
2nd update, 8:55 pm
Avalanche decline on the Schwägalp – Avalanche cone search set due to weather conditions – Currently no findings on missing persons
Due to the heavy snowfall and avalanche danger, the search of the avalanche cone had to be stopped by the emergency services. The three slightly injured persons could be transferred by the rescue service to the hospital. Currently there are no findings about missing persons. The hotel and restaurant guests on the Schwägalp are looked after by the rescuers on site and are safe
3rd Update 11.01.2019, 0500 clock
Avalanche decline on the Schwägalp – guests drove down to the valley
On Schwägalp, an avalanche broke down on Thursday afternoon, 10 January 2019. The search of the avalanche cone had to be stopped. Hotel guests were driven by bus into the valley.
Due to the heavy snowfall and the avalanche danger, the search of the avalanche cone by the forces had to be stopped on Thursday evening. The restaurant and hotel guests who wanted to leave the Schwägalp, were in the night with buses down to the valley. 30 hotel guests and eleven employees are still on the Schwägalp, outside of a possible danger area. Until now, the cantonal police Appenzell Ausserrhoden have not reported missing persons. If the avalanche situation and weather conditions permit, the avalanche cone scan will be continued on Friday morning, followed by snow clearing and vehicle recovery. The exact time depends on the situation assessment of those responsible for the Alpine rescue due to the weather and avalanche situation on site. The road to Schwägalp remains closed.
4th Update , Friday, January 11, 2019, 10:30 am
Avalanche decline on Schwägalp – Avalanche cone search continues – Hotel guests are currently driven down to the valley – Schwägalpstrasse open again, access to the hotel still closed
On Schwägalp, an avalanche broke down on Thursday afternoon, 10 January 2019. The search of the avalanche cone had to be stopped due to the weather situation at night. The hotel guests, who spent the night on the Schwägalp, are driven down to the valley on Friday mornings by bus.
The emergency response team at Schwägalp has decided on the basis of the risk analysis that the search and clearance of the avalanche cone will continue. The Swiss Alpine Rescue, civil engineering office of the canton AR, members of the fire brigades Hundwil and Urnäsch and also the rescue service are in action. The snow masses are probed before the snow can be removed and cleared. As before, the canton police Appenzell Ausserrhoden have received no reports of missing persons.
The remaining hotel guests who spent the night on the Schwägalp are currently being evacuated and driven down to the valley by bus. The three slightly injured persons, who were transferred to the hospital last night, were all able to leave the hospital after outpatient treatment.
The Schwägalpstrasse is open for traffic again. The access to the valley station of the Säntisbahn and the Berghotel, the area of the avalanche cone, remains closed to all traffic.
5th Update , Final Notice, Friday, January 11, 2019, 3:30 pm
Avalanche decline on the Schwägalp – Avalanche cone search continues – No evidence of buried persons – Schwägalpstrasse open, access to the hotel still closed
On Schwägalp, an avalanche broke down on Thursday afternoon, 10 January 2019. Search and eviction is still ongoing.
The emergency services have continued the search and clearance in the area of the avalanche cone on the Schwägalp due to the decision of the operational command. After the soundings by experts of the Alpine Rescue Switzerland, the snow is removed with heavy equipment. The certainty that no one is buried exists only when the snow masses are completely cleared away. The work will be continued as long as the weather conditions permit. As before, the canton police Appenzell Ausserrhoden have received no reports of missing persons.
A total of 180 emergency services (rescue service, Rega, Alpine Rescue Switzerland, fire brigades Hundwil and Urnäsch, care team, Säntis-Schwebebahn AG, avalanche experts, civil protection, insurance, civil engineering and cantonal police Appenzell Ausserrhoden) were in action.
While the access to the valley station of the Säntisbahn remains closed, the Schwägalpstrasse has been open to traffic again since Friday morning.
In a statement issued on Thursday evening, cantonal police in Appenzell Ausserrhoden confirmed three people had suffered minor injuries in the avalanche and had been taken to hospital after on-site treatment by rescue workers.
Police said they were now searching for people who might be missing in the wake of the avalanche.
However, at around 9pm this search was suspended for the night because of heavy snowfall and the danger of further avalanches.
You can see our recent article on how avalanches claimed two lives in Switzerland the past week.
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Featured Image: Caution avalanche sign – Photo by Nicolas Cool – Unsplash – Avalanche crashes into hotel in eastern Switzerland.