Wednesday, February 24, 1999 Published at 11:44 GMT
'Carry on skiing' - UK tour firms
Thousands of tourists are trapped
British tour companies say they have no plans to cancel ski trips in spite of the dangerous conditions and heavy snowfalls around resorts all over Europe.
About 20,000 British winter sports enthusiasts are thought to be stranded in Alpine resorts.
The death toll there stands at 10 but is expected to rise as heavy snow hampers rescue efforts.
A British tourist trapped in Galtuer said there was "a kind of uneasy calm punctuated by the arrival of military helicopters".
Chris Laming, who is on holiday in the region with his family, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Just after it happened we were hit by a storm as well that didn't help, it just added to the gloom of the situation."
Mr Laming said he and his family were in the centre of the town, not far from the point of impact, when the avalanche hit.
"There was a ski race going on in the middle of the village, lots of music which may have masked the rumble," he said.
"We were in the hotel at the time. The windows of the hotel were hit by this amazing cloud of powder snow," said Mr Laming.
He and his family have been told to stay inside the hotel until the situation outside improves.
Foreign Office warning
The Foreign Office has warned prospective ski tourists about conditions in the Alps and issued an emergency telephone number for people worried they may have relatives caught in the avalanche. The number is (00 44+)171 839 1010.
The Ski Club of Great Britain is telling tourists to carry on with their travel plans but to be ready for last-minute changes.
Managing Director Caroline Stuart-Taylor, said: "The tour operator may have to move [tourists] to a different resort."
"We think it's best to leave it in the hands of the tour operators who are very closely in touch with the local security services in the resort. They are the people who really know what's going on on the ground," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
Phone lines to many ski companies have been very busy with customers calling to find out about bookings and relatives on the slopes.
Diane Palumbo, of Ski World, based in west London, said Austrian resorts were worst hit by the weather.
Nevertheless, the torrential snowfalls were exciting experienced skiers keen to get out onto the slopes.
She added: "The safety of our guests is absolutely paramount, so we always follow the advice of the authorities. If they tell us there is any danger, clients are moved immediately."