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Mt Hutt update

With gale-force winds easing gradually, more than 1000 stranded Mt Hutt skiers are expected to start heading down the mountain within the next hour, after spending a long night in a skifield cafe.

The skiers, including 300 schoolchildren, were stranded after extreme winds closed the skifield about 11.40am yesterday, with the access road shut at 12.30pm as gales created snow drifts and cut visibility.

Skiers, snowboarders and 120 staff were packed into the cafe, 1600 metres up the mountain, as winds gusting up to 200kmh roared across the Canterbury skifield.

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