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Ski stations cut off, 11 injured as heavy snow hits much of France
Access to ski stations was closed in the French Pyrenees mountains on Sunday after 48 hours of heavy snow that have seen 11 people injured across the country. Officials warned that just one skier could set off an avalanche.
The prefecture of Pyrenées Atlantiques closed access to ski stations on Saturday evening, with the ban maintained in the Béarn on Sunday morning, warning that there was a “very great” risk of avalanches on all slopes and that they could be set off by a “single skier passing”.
Gendarmes organised convoys to bring holiday-makers down from some ski stations in the region on Sunday, Sud-Ouest newspaper reported.
The Météo France weather service issued its second highest-level warning for snow and heavy rain along the mountain chain on the border with Spain.
It warned of the danger of flooding on the Atlantic coast and avalanches at the foot of the mountains.
Traffic was disrupted on many roads in the south-west and heavy goods vehicles were banned from using the A64 between the cities of Pau and Toulouse.
The electricity supply was reported to have been reestablished on Saturday to 27,500 homes, which had been without it since Friday morning, in the south-west but 7,000 were reported to be without power on Sunday morning.
Snow continued to fall in the south-east on Sunday, although there were no reports of serious disruption to traffic in the morning.
Rain and snow hit most of France on Friday, continuing in may areas over the weekend.
Three people were seriously injured and eight less seriously, according to the interior minister on Friday evening.
Avalanches have killed 18 people in France this winter.
In neighbouring Switzerland six skiers were killed and three seriously injured in avalanches on Saturday.