Three Ger­man skiers killed in Aus­trian avalanche after heavy snow­fall

The Guardian - - WORLD -

Three Ger­man skiers were found dead and a fourth was miss­ing after they were swept away in an avalanche near the Aus­trian ski re­sort of Lech am Arl­berg, po­lice said yes­ter­day.

The four had been us­ing tour­ing skis, which en­able skiers to climb as well as ski down­hill and ex­plore off-piste, said po­lice in the western prov­ince of Vo­rarl­berg.

The bod­ies of the three men, from Up­per Swabia in south-west Ger­many, were found at about 11 pm on Satur­day after one of their wives re­ported them miss­ing. They were aged 57, 36 and 32. The fourth per­son, who is 28 and also from south­ern Ger­many, was still miss­ing, a po­lice state­ment said.

Heavy snow has hit the Aus­trian Alps in the past week, rais­ing avalanche warn­ing lev­els and cut­ting off lo­cal roads.

Else­where, two em­ploy­ees at the Mo­ril­lon ski re­sort in the French Alps died yes­ter­day when avalanche-con­trol charges they were try­ing to set ac­ci­den­tally went off, moun­tain res­cue ex­perts said. The ac­ci­dent took place at an al­ti­tude of 1,800 me­tres (6,000 feet). Con­trolled ex­plo­sions are car­ried out be­fore the slopes open to mit­i­gate the risk of larger avalanches.

The two in­ci­dents brings the num­ber of weather-re­lated deaths re­ported in parts of Europe so far this month to at least 25.

Po­lice in Aus­tria said the friends killed in the avalanche had ap­par­ently skied on to a trail that was closed. Al­though they had avalanche pro­tec­tion equip­ment and de­ployed airbags, they were buried and suf­fered mul­ti­ple in­juries. They were found with the help of mo­bile phone track­ing.

Au­thor­i­ties in south­ern Ger­many and Aus­tria used a break in the weather on Satur­day to clear snow from roofs and roads. But later that evening snow set in again.

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