Weekend avalanches kill 10 in Austria and Switzerland

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Ten people have been killed in several avalanches across the Austrian and Swiss Alps over the weekend.

Tourists from New Zealand, China and Germany were among the dead at a number of different ski resorts.

Austrian authorities put in place a level four avalanche alert – the second highest – following intense snowfall and wind in the area.

Despite the warnings, ski resorts in western Austria have been filling up due to school holidays in Vienna.

Austrian police announced five deaths on Sunday, including that of a 59-year-old man who was using a snow plough in the western region of Tyrol.

They also recovered the bodies of a ski guide in Sankt Anton am Arlberg and a 62-year-old man who was cross-country skiing around the summit of Hohe Aifner.

On Saturday, a 17-year-old New Zealander, a 32-year-old Chinese national and a German man in his 50s – who were all said to be skiing off designated ski trails when avalanches hit – were also found dead.

In Switzerland, a 56-year-old woman and 52-year-old man were also killed by unstable snow in the south-east canton of Graubuenden on Saturday morning. Swiss police said a third member of their group managed to escape unharmed.

Avalanches are common in both countries. According to Austria’s APA news agency, 30 avalanches were reported in the Tyrol region on Saturday alone – 11 of these involving people.

Austria’s level four alert level means “very large avalanches are likely” – it advises inexperienced skiers to remain on open ski runs and trails and for experienced skiers to stay away from very steep terrain.

Source BBC