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Thawing permafrost freezes a Swiss cable car

File photo of the cable car leading to the Eggishorn in canton Valais KEYSTONE/JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT

The thawing of the permafrost has forced the closure of the Fiescheralp-Eggishorn aerial tramway in southern Switzerland.

This content was published on October 5, 2019 - 17:53
Keystone-SDA/sm

The changes in the terrain around the mountain station were observed during Friday's routine inspection of the facility, as the CEO of Aletsch BahnenExternal link told the Keystone-SDA news agency on Saturday.

As a result, operations had to be halted with immediate effect as a preventive measure. The altered terrain will be compensated for through structural measures, but it is unclear how extensive these will be. The plan is to resume operations for the start of the winter season in December.

+ Earlier this year, an avalanche damaged the Säntisbahn cable car

From Eggishorn there are good views of the Aletsch Glacier, which has shrunk dramatically over the years. The shrinking of glaciers, and especially the melting of the permafrost – the permanently frozen ground in the Alps above 2,500 metres –are destabilizing the slopes of the mountains themselves.

Masses of loose material may start to slide under the pressure of water building up in many parts of the Alps, warnsExternal link the federal government’s consultative body on climate change.

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