Sniper at the Davos summit
Armed security stand guard on rooftops at Davos FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

Dozens of homes in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, where world leaders including Donald Trump are meeting for their annual finance summit, have been evacuated following heavy snow and avalanche alerts in the Klosters mountains.

As officials keep a wary eye on the weather, residents, tourists and visitors have been told to remain indoors.

The weather worries were an extra security headache as the annual World Economic Forum in Davos got under way on Monday (22 January) with political and business leaders out in force to discuss the state of the world's economy. The annual summit runs until Friday.

Safety concerns in the area have spiked following days of heavy snow that have cut off train lines and closed roads across Switzerland, France and Austria.

In Davos, the risk level was raised to the second-highest level by officials last night as business people and politicians started to arrive.

World leaders including Trump, Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May are all due to visit the summit.

Trump will be the first sitting US president to attend the economic gathering since Bill Clinton in 2000.

But in a last-minute change of plans, the East Wing of the White House announced that Melania Trump would not be joining her husband on the trip to Switzerland.

East Wing communications director Stephanie Grisham said that the first lady would not be flying out with Trump this week due to "scheduling and logistical issues".

She has not been spotted or released a statement of any kind in almost two weeks.

She last made a public statement when the news broke over a payout that Donald Trump's lawyers made to a porn star to stay quiet over an alleged affair.

She flew with the president to Mar-a-Lago over the recent holiday weekend but was not spotted with Trump at any of the events.

Trump will hold meetings with May at Davos. They had been expected to talk when he visited London for the opening of the new US embassy but he pulled out of the trip, citing its location.

The US secretary of state Rex Tillerson met May in Downing Street on Monday instead.

Extreme weather

As leaders got down to business in Davos, extreme weather was ravaging the region. In Zermatt, 9,000 people were left stranded when an avalanche cut off the town's only road and railway line for the second time in 2018.

There have been similar cases in Chamonix in France and across Austria's Paznaun valley.

The mayor of the French Alpine town of Chamonix, Eric Fournier, said that it was the worst snowfall he had ever seen.

"The situation is extraordinary. We've had the equivalent of five months of precipitation in 45 days. Since becoming mayor in 2008, it's the first time I've had to order evacuation measures," Fournier said.

Two skiers died on Sunday when they were struck by an avalanche in the Bernese mountains.

donald trump
Donald and Melania Trump REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque