Aus­tria avalanche kills 3; Ski pa­trollers killed in France

Miami Herald - - WORLD | DEATHS - As­so­ci­ated Press

Three Ger­man skiers have been killed in an avalanche in Aus­tria and a fourth is still miss­ing, po­lice said Sun­day as snow­fall set in again in the north­ern Alps. In France, two ski pa­trollers died when the de­vices they use to trig­ger avalanches ex­ploded.

The two ac­ci­dents brought to at least 26 the num­ber of weather-re­lated deaths re­ported in parts of Europe this month.

In Aus­tria, the wife of one of the Ger­man skiers re­ported them miss­ing on Satur­day. The bod­ies of the men, aged 57, 36 and 32, were re­cov­ered later Satur­day evening near the ski re­sort of Lech.

Po­lice in Vo­rarl­berg, Aus­tria’s west­ern­most prov­ince, said they had to call off the search for an­other miss­ing Ger­man skier in the group, age 28, be­cause of heavy snow and the risk of avalanches.

Po­lice said the four friends had ap­par­ently skied onto a trail that was closed. Al­though they had avalanche pro­tec­tion equip­ment and de­ployed airbags, the vic­tims were buried by the avalanche and suf­fered mul­ti­ple in­juries. They were lo­cated with the help of cell­phone track­ing.

In France, the HauteSavoie re­gion’s high moun­tain gen­darmerie said the two ski pa­trollers were killed Sun­day morn­ing in Mo­ril­lon be­fore ski slopes were opened to the pub­lic. Of­fi­cers were in­ves­ti­gat­ing the scene to de­ter­mine the cause of the rare ac­ci­dent.

Ski pa­trollers are in charge of prevent­ing po­ten­tial dan­gers to skiers, no­tably by trig­ger­ing con­trolled avalanches with pow­er­ful ex­plo­sive charges.

Au­thor­i­ties in south­ern Ger­many and Aus­tria had used a break in the weather to clear heavy loads of snow from roofs and roads, but snow set in again on Satur­day night.

In cen­tral Switzer­land, trains car­ry­ing cars through the Furka tun­nel were sus­pended be­cause of an avalanche on a nearby road.

KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND AP

Be­cause of the dan­ger of an avalanche, a moun­tain pass road was closed in Ober­maisel­stein, Ger­many on Sun­day.

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