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Snow, traffic jams and risk of avalanche greet delegates at Davos

With many of the private jets that were scheduled to land at airports around Davos grounded because of the bad weather, roads open to traffic were packed with limousines ferrying delegates.

world Updated: Jan 23, 2018 09:40 IST
Sanchita Sharma
People walk through heavy snow fall in the resort town of Davos.
People walk through heavy snow fall in the resort town of Davos.(AFP)

Heavy snow and traffic jams greeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other heads of state, business leaders, celebrities and delegates at the annual World Economic Forum meet in Davos, which was hit by 47 cm of snow in 24 hours that buried large tracts of the ski resort.

With many of the around 1,000 private jets that were scheduled to land at airports around Davos – Zurich, St Moritz, Dubendorf and St Gallen-Altenrhein – being grounded because of the bad weather, roads open to traffic were packed with limousines ferrying delegates. This caused snarls that doubled the commute time between Zurich and Davos from a little more than two hours to close to five hours.

“I’ve lived here all my life and it’s never been this bad in almost 20 years. Some parts and one of the two roads leading to Davos are closed because of the chances of an avalanche, and the train didn’t run for several hours yesterday, causing problems,” said Aita Gainelli, a 25-year-old Davos resident studying sustainable development at the University of Zurich.

“It last snowed this much here in 1999, but I’m told it will get better on Tuesday,” she said.

Delegates struggled to swap their snow boots for dress shoes and stiletto heels after ploughing through heavy snow to reach the 24th Annual Crystal Awards, where actor Shah Rukh Khan is being feted along with Cate Blanchett and Elton John for philanthropic work.

The awards were followed by a welcome reception hosted by India to showcase its cuisine, yoga and Bollywood (represented by “King” Khan), which are being promoted by the government as symbols of the country’s soft power.

Modi will deliver the inaugural address at the World Economic Summit in Davos, where he arrived on Monday for a busy two days to woo investors and promote “the spirit of young, innovative, new India”.

He will hold a bilateral meeting with Swiss President Alain Berset and address the international business council.