BRITON AMONG TWO DEAD IN AUSTRIA AVALANCHE
25th November 2016
The men were caught in an avalanche in Obergurgl in the Tirol on Saturday. A Dutchman died at the time while the British man was flown to hospital where he died from his injuries on Sunday. With other avalanche accidents caution is urged. UPDATED
A group of people were touring off piste in Obergurgl last Saturday when they were caught in an avalanche around 13.00.
It is understood they were a group of mainly Dutch snowboarders using split-boards to climb up and access remote terrain.
The body of the Dutchman, who was 22-years old, was dug out on Saturday and he died at the scene. He was an instructor.
The 40-year old British man was dug out alive and taken by helicopter to hospital in Innsbruck but succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.
It is unclear if he was part of the group of was just in the area at the time.
Another Dutchman, who is 18-years old, remains seriously injured in hospital.
The group was caught in the snow slide at an altitude of 3,000m.
It was 1,000m long and around 700m wide and it is believed the group triggered it themselves.
4 people were buried in the slide.
Others in the group were unable to call the rescue services as there was no mobile phone signal.
Two members of the group skied down to alert the authorites while the others searched for the people missing.
Bad weather hampered the search with poor visibility.
The accident happened in the Ferwell area at the end of the valley.
The names of the deceased have not been released as next-of-kin are being informed.
It is understood all in the group were highly experienced.
An investigation is underway and it follows high levels of danger across part of the Alps following recent snow.
There are warnings of avalanches across parts of the Alps that have seen recent heavy snow and strong winds.
In Switzerland three people were swept away in the Simplon region.
One of them was slightly injured.
Three Italians, one woman and two men, were ski touring in the Breithorn region.
As they crossed over the area at an altitude of about 3,355m they were swept away by an avalanche.
The Valais police have urged people to exercise extreme caution.
“In the south a considerable danger of dry and moist avalanches will be encountered over a wide area,” warned the Swiss Avalanche Institute as it detailed conditions across the mountains last weekend.
It has been snowing heavily and there have been big local accumulations.
The largest amounts have fallen in the northwest of Italy, the east of the French Alps and the south of Switzerland.
Some resorts in Italy remain completely closed due the danger.
A huge clear up operation is underway and many roads and railway lines are threatened.
See this related PlanetSKI story as we tracked the snow on Friday.
And here is our updated weekly snow report.
Similar warnings have been issued in the French Alps.
“Spontaneous and large scale avalanches can occur…. and the snow is unstable in the Southern Alps where it is dangerous. Precipitation has been falling in the form of snow above 2200m,” said Météo France.
Météo France also announces that the risks of avalanche are higher in very localized areas, among which “the east of Haute-Maurienne (Savoie) and the east of Queyras (Hautes-Alpes)”.
In these areas, “cumulative snowfall at 2200m measured in 36 hours often exceeds 1m50 and sometimes reaches 2m or even 2m50.”
“Spontaneous starts of avalanches can thus occur, which calls for the utmost caution in exposed areas,” it added.
For a detailed analysis of the current situation see this article from our good friends over at Wepowder
A team from PlanetSKI is currently in Val Thorens, France, where there has been little fresh snow but conditions are still very dangerous with an unstable snowpack.
The authorities are urging people to follow all the local advice in the ski resorts that are open and have been affected by the high levels of snow.
People skiing off piste should do so with all the correct safety equipment.
See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.
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