Avalanche hits hotel as parts of Europe are snowed under

Snow is seen covering the inside room of a hotel, piled high enough to touch the ceiling lampshades, while the windows are shattered and broken Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The force of the snow shattered windows and filled the hotel's rooms

In Austria, 60 hotel guests escaped injury when their building was hit by an avalanche overnight.

The avalanche in Ramsau am Dachstein was strong enough to throw vehicles out of its path and burst through windows.

Much of Europe has been hit by heavy snowfall, causing travel disruption and resulting in at least two dozen deaths in the past few weeks.

Overnight, more than 40,000 people were trapped in one of Austria's largest ski resorts because of the avalanche risk.

Many of the country's ski resorts have closed slopes and warned holidaymakers about the dangers, particularly of off-piste skiing.

In Ramsau am Dachstein, the avalanche hit two buildings - a four-star hotel and an apartment-style tourist accommodation property - at about 01:00 local time (00:00 GMT), Austrian news outlet ORF reported.

Initial reports had suggested the buildings were empty, but it later emerged that some 60 guests had been in the properties, but had escaped unharmed. The guests were taken to other accommodation nearby after snow filled several rooms.

The hotels, however, suffered heavy damage from the force of the snow, as did several vehicles outside.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A bus was swept away and crushed by the avalanche in Austria

Elsewhere in Austria, the roads leading to the Saalbach-Hinterglemm resort were closed because of the dangerously high accumulation of snow, cutting the area off overnight.

David Hasselhoff, the former Knight Rider and Baywatch star who is a popular singer in Germany and Austria, tweeted a video from the area, where he is scheduled to perform on Thursday.

Trudging through the snow wearing nothing but a bathrobe and boots, he said he was making his way towards the outdoor Jacuzzi - before abandoning the attempt, declaring: "I'm never going to make it! My little Hoff is freezing, I've got to get inside."

On Tuesday, avalanche blasting - a way of altering the dangerous levels of packed snow using explosives and other techniques - was reportedly being used in the area in attempts to reopen roads.

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Media captionSnow brings parts of Europe to standstill

Across the border in Germany, a similar avalanche damaged a hotel in Balderschwang - but there were no injuries reported as that part of the hotel had been closed.

A similar impact hit a Swiss hotel on Friday, the same day a nine-year-old boy was killed by a falling tree after it collapsed under the weight of snow.

The heavy snowfall has caused wider transport chaos, resulting in road and rail closures and delays in Germany, Austria, and Sweden, among others.

BBC Weather says the heavy snow has only affected parts of Europe, while other areas like Spain, Ireland, and Britain have seen much milder weather.

Meteorologist Matt Taylor said a large weather pattern from the Atlantic has meant that mild air is affecting some areas, while cold northern air is being drawn down into central Europe.

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Media captionWhy has Europe had so much snow?

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