Around 200 skiers in the Italian Dolomites had to be rescued by emergency services after being left stranded in their cable cars when fierce winds of 130 kph hit the area.

The cable car at Ciampinoi in the Val Gardena was deemed unsafe after high winds blew a tree over the cable. Fearing the cable could snap, mountain rescue experts and firefighters were called in to help the stranded skiers. Rescue teams were lowered down from helicopters onto some 20 cable car cabins which had been drawn to a halt at about 30 metres above the ground.

The news comes as stormy weather wreaked havoc across northern Italy claiming at least two lives. A woman was reportedly crushed by a falling tree in Urbino in the Emilia Romagna region and a man died while driving when his car was hit by a rockfall near Lucca in Tuscany.

Several schools were shut down in Tuscany and a 17th-century church belltower at Cortona partially collapsed with winds of up to 150 kilometres an hour were registered. Winds of up to 180 kilometres (112 miles) an hour were also reported through the Riviera region of Liguria.