Eight dead in Swiss avalanches

2015-02-01 16:22
Rescuers at site of avalanche. (Kantonpolizei Graubuenden, AFP)

Rescuers at site of avalanche. (Kantonpolizei Graubuenden, AFP)

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Vienna - Eight people died in avalanches on the weekend in Switzerland, where experts warned on Sunday that the considerable avalanche risk had not yet subsided.

In the biggest of the accidents, a group of Swiss ski mountaineers were buried under masses of snow on Saturday while they were on a tour to the Vilan peak near the eastern town of Seewis.

While four were confirmed dead on Saturday, police said on Sunday that a fifth woman belonging to the team had died in hospital.

In nearby Wildhaus, not far from the Austrian border, a 26-year-old off-piste skier plunged to his death in another avalanche.

He triggered an avalanche that swept him over a cliff and 650m down a steep gully, police said.

Two other men were killed in separate off-piste avalanches in Muerren and Adelboden.

In most of Switzerland and Austria, avalanche experts declared a "considerable" avalanche risk, the third highest level on a five-level avalanche danger scale.

At this risk level, even a single skier can add enough pressure to the snow surface to make it break and sweep down a slope.

"Avalanches can be easily triggered in both the newly fallen snow and the accumulated snowdrift," Switzerland's avalanche service warned in a bulletin on Sunday.

In western Austria, a man and a woman were killed in an avalanche while skiing off-piste in the resort of Damuels.

Several others survived a number of incidents in Austria, including a 74-year-old man who was partially buried by the snow in the Styrian mountains. He had to wait eight hours until rescuers dug him out shortly before midnight.

Read more on:    switzerland

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