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Major avalanche alert in Alps

20,000 homes hit by power cuts after snowstorms close Mont-Blanc tunnel, strand 100 tourists and close ski station roads

SKIERS and climbers have been warned of "very high" avalanche risks in the Alps after snowstorms forced the closure of the Mont-Blanc tunnel and cut power to thousands of homes.

Around 100 tourists were also stranded in the village of Bourg-Saint-Maurice after the storms cut road access in the Vallée de la Tarentaise. Roads to Val Thorens, Val d'Isère and Tignes ski stations were also cut off.

The storms blacked out 20,000 homes last night in the northern Alps and an orange weather alert was called across Savoie, Haute-Savoie and Isère.

Spontaneous avalanches are very likely in the Mont-Blanc massif (Haute-Savoie), plus Belledonne (Isère), and the Savoie massifs of Bauges, Beaufortin, Vanoise, Maurienne, Haute Tarentaise. The risk is put at five on the five-point scale. "Roads, buildings and mountain structures exposed to avalanche risk could be hit," warned a Météo France weather bulletin.

The south of France was also hit last night by strong winds, reaching 150kph, with Corsica badly affected. Ferries and flights were cancelled.

Wecam image: Val d'Isere ski station

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